In the wake of the 38 Studios disaster, there’s a danger that “economic development” may become a dirty word in Rhode Island. With a few good business plans and a whole bunch of money (courtesy of his recently awarded Rhode Island Foundation Innovation Fellowship grant), Soren Ryherd hopes to reverse that trend. His award-winning idea (to the tune of three years/$300,000) is the Retail Project, which aims to develop Rhode Island-based brands producing or selling products worldwide through the online marketplace, and then reverse engineer them into bricks and mortar stores. Successful execution of the project would mean real economic development in a number of ways: more jobs and a stronger tax base provided by successful businesses, more outside dollars coming into the state from worldwide buyers, and less empty storefronts in our communities. The first two brands (TBA) are slated to launch in early fall, and with the backing of his fellowship, Ryherd will be there to shepherd them from the seed phase right through to the grand opening. The Retail Project: coming soon to a community near you.