PROVIDENCE, RI—In his role as Chair of Rhode Island's Small Business Advocacy Council, Lt. Governor Daniel McKee today joined Justin Gontarek and Nicholas Rego, founders of Oceanside Graphics RI, to announce Gift it Forward, a new website that makes it easier for Rhode Islanders to support small businesses impacted by COVID-19.
The website, RIsmallbusiness.org, was announced during a small business conference call hosted by the Lt. Governor's Office on Tuesday. The site features three main resources:
Business registration: Small business owners can submit information on how Rhode Islanders can purchase gift cards from their business. Once approved, the business will be added to a categorized database on the site.
Community nominations: Rhode Islanders can nominate local businesses to be included in the gift card database. All businesses will be contacted before their information appears on the site.
Corporate giving: Larger companies interested in supporting small businesses can submit their contact information through the site and the Gift it Forward team will work to connect them with a business in need.
"Our small businesses need us now more than ever," said Lt. Governor McKee. "Gift it Forward is just one way we can all step up and help a local business right now. I continue to be deeply touched by the way members of our community, including small businesses, are coming together to support one another during these difficult times. Rhode Island may be the smallest state, but we have the biggest hearts. I encourage Rhode Islanders to join me in gifting it forward."
Oceanside Graphics is a Warwick-based small business that offers screen printing, embroidery, sign and banner production and business branding services. The company is a partnership between two local brands, RI Vinyl owned by Nicholas Rego and JTG Graphic Design owned by Justin Gontarek.
"The team at Oceanside Graphics is constantly thinking outside the box and working to adapt our small business to the community's needs," said Rego."While developing Gift it Forward, we also found a way to use our company's equipment and resources to make medical face shields to assist in preventing the spread of COVID-19. We are sourcing all locally purchased materials and are committed to Gift it Forward."
"Small business has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. My father owned a limo company and always pushed me to work hard. My mother always stressed the importance of commitment and follow through. Now that I own my own business, I live those values every single day just like thousands of other small businesses owners in Rhode Island," said Gontarek. "I am thrilled to have this opportunity to work with Lt. Governor McKee and I look forward to a long successful partnership. Now, let's get out there and Gift it Forward."
The team at Oceanside Graphics is volunteering their time to manage the Gift it Forward website. Businesses with questions about the program can e-mail info@RIsmallbusiness.org.
Rhode Islanders can join the Gift it Forward conversation online by using #GiftItForwardRI.