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Taking flight: Business incubator to open in downtown Moses Lake

by CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE
Staff Writer | January 20, 2022 1:07 AM

MOSES LAKE — You can still smell fresh paint and newly cut wood.

But it will be a bit before the Downtown Moses Lake Association’s new business incubator, located at 205 S. Division St., between the Smith Martin Building and Crisp Salad Co., will open its doors. However, even with a projected opening date of late March or early April, the new space — called the Obra Project — has several tenants.

And a lot of hope for what it can accomplish for downtown Moses Lake.

According to DMLA Executive Director Lexi Smith, the name “Obra” — which means handiwork, piece or something produced, in Spanish — came from graphic designer Fabian Nunez, who used the name to describe the “masterpieces” the business incubator would help produce.

“Our intention with this incubator is to finally give our entrepreneurs in Moses Lake a platform to start building their business,” Smith said.

The space, empty since roughly 2015, will have room for five tenants, who will pay roughly $150 per month to get a taste of what running a business is like and to see if they can make a go of selling their wares, Smith said, describing it as a “test run” to see if their business idea can earn them an honest living.

The focus will be on artists and creative types, she added, like seascape artist Hannah Fountain and Liberate and Lather owner Angela Clay, who are two of three tenants set to be in the incubator when it opens.

“Somebody that wants to open up a boutique, somebody that makes their own product, somebody that provides an inventory, or maybe a recreational activity that doesn’t currently exist in Moses Lake,” she said.

Successful entrepreneurs will be given the support to then find a more permanent space elsewhere downtown, Smith said. Because the end goal is to invite more businesses downtown.

“It’s our contribution to the creative district. And part of a creative district is to start recruiting those creative minds and artists and people into downtown Moses Lake,” Smith said.

“It has been a goal of mine to have my own brick and mortar place downtown, but as an artist I think the incubator is a perfect opportunity to test the waters and see if Moses Lake is ready for another art place,” said Fountain, who currently works out of space at Moses Lake Baptist Church on Joann Drive Northeast.

In addition, Smith said she is going to move her office from a back room on the corner of Third Avenue and Alder Street to the new location, which will also host a conference room open for community use. The DMLA will host classes and workshops, she added, and tenants will get that opportunity, too.

While there is still work that needs to be done — furniture and fixtures need to be bought, and dividers brought in to separate the business spaces — Smith noted the incubator already has a Fountain original, a giant wall mural of Moses Lake.

“We had her do this beautiful mural,” Smith said. “We are very excited to have her as an artist, test out her gallery in the incubator.”

“I put a good hundred hours into it,” Fountain said. “I had so much fun with it.”

Smith said the DMLA still has two open spaces in the business incubator. For information, visit the association’s website, mlbacares.org, or call 509-770-1700.

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Downtown Moses Lake Association Executive Director Lexi Smith stands inside the association’s new business incubator.