Secretary Stefan Pryor today celebrated the state's Small Business Assistance Program reaching another milestone, awarding its 100th loan. Since the program was announced in November 2016, the state-backed loan fund has awarded more than $14.3 million in loans.
"Small businesses are the engine that drives Rhode Island's economy," said Governor Gina Raimondo. "Our small business community has created thousands of jobs and helped bring our unemployment down below the national average. In just two and a half years, this program has helped support more than 100 small businesses, and it's critical that we keep our foot on the gas and build on our success."
The FY2020 budget includes an additional $500,000 investment in the program. Loans provided through the Small Business Assistance Fund help small businesses having difficulty obtaining adequate credit from traditional lending organizations access much-needed capital. The program focuses on women-owned and minority-owned businesses as well as those in Rhode Island's underserved communities. Fifty-two percent of 102 loans are women- and minority-owned businesses and 36 are start-ups.
"Under Governor Raimondo, the Small Business Assistance Program has now helped more than 100 entrepreneurs gain much-needed access to capital. As a result, this program is helping Rhode Island small business owners realize their dream," said Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor. "Small businesses are the heart of our economy and this program – the first state-financed small business loan program in memory – has helped make and keep our heart healthy. This loan program is one part of our menu of small business support – including our SupplyRI program and small business hotline. We encourage all small businesses to reach out if we can be of assistance."
The seven community lenders involved in the Small Business Assistance Program are: Business Development Corporation, BDCRI, Community Investment Corporation, Center for Women and Enterprise, SEED Corporation, Social Enterprise Greenhouse, and the Rhode Island Black Business Association. There is still additional funding available for small businesses. Interested parties should contact Doris Blanchard at the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation at (401) 278-9100.