Office Activity Update - May 29, 2020
Lt. Governor McKee today hosted a COVID-19 virtual town hall meeting for Rhode Island's small business community.
The Lt. Governor highlighted his recent proposal to use Rhode Island's CARES Act funds for grants to help small businesses and his proposal for the state to partner with local banks to create a state-guaranteed loan strategy for small businesses. Lt. Governor McKee followed that discussion by sharing a video from 2015 when he invited Thumbtack to Rhode Island to discuss small business friendliness rankings with policymakers, stakeholders, and small business owners.
Mark Hayward, District Director of the RI Small Business Administration office; Matthew Weldon, Assistant Director of the RI Department of Labor and Training and Liz Tanner, Director of the RI Department of Business Regulation provided updates on behalf of their respective agencies. Joseph Rodio, Esq. of the Office of the Lt. Governor, was also available for questions throughout the call. He noted that the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that extends the Paycheck Protection Program. He added that many of the clauses in the bill mirror the letter that Lt. Governor McKee sent to Rhode Island's Congressional Delegation based on feedback received from the small business virtual town hall meetings.
The Lt. Governor received an update on the Gift it Forward initiative from Lori Giuttari of Visual Thrive, Chris Parisi of Trailblaze PVD, and Justin Gontarek of Oceanside Graphics. The team announced that they will be launching an updated website next week, including ShopLocalRhodeIsland.com. Gontarek also highlighted that he has been working with Lt. Governor McKee's office to donate plastic barriers to local businesses.
Lt. Governor McKee introduced the small business panel featuring Bill Bartholomew of Silverteeth and the Bartholomewtown Podcast and Colin Geoffroy of the Providence G. The panelists discussed lack of fiscal aid for businesses, specifically those in the event industry (hair stylists, musicians, venues, etc.). Geoffroy, who also owns businesses in Massachusetts, noted how Lt. Governor McKee's advocacy has been effective in access to information and pushing for change, whereas in Massachusetts, guidance is lacking.
Lt. Governor McKee provided closing remarks, thanked the guest panelists, and those who joined the hour long town hall.