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Raimondo Announces $100 Million in Funds for State's Small Businesses

Raimondo Announces $100 Million in Funds for State's Small Businesses

Funds will support reopening and adaptation costs, fixed expense relief, and wraparound services

Governor Gina Raimondo today announced $100 million in emergency financial support for Rhode Island's small businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The financial relief package will provide direct support through grants to the state's small businesses for reopening, adaptation, and fixed costs incurred by businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The package also includes wrap around technical support services to bolster long term economic viability. Applications will be available on https://commerceri.com/ and will be accepted on a rolling basis beginning later this month.

"Running a small business is difficult work even in the best of times, and unfortunately these businesses have been hit hardest by this crisis," said Governor Raimondo. "Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and they've struggled over the past few months. These businesses need immediate support, and this is just the beginning. These grants will provide short-term relief to Rhode Island's small businesses while also helping to position them for long-term success."

"This grant program will provide needed resources to Rhode Island's small businesses, which have been hit hard by the COVID crisis," said Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor. "The program will help small businesses cover reopening expenses and will assist them as they adapt to the new conditions of this new normal. The effort will especially focus upon our most severely impacted industries and communities. We thank Governor Raimondo for her tireless leadership throughout this emergency and her advocacy for our state's small business community in particular. Thanks also to the many stakeholders who helped inform the development of this program -- including our Business Restoration advisory group, which since May has been providing input on this approach. Thank you also to our federal congressional delegation for delivering the resources that make this program possible."

Today's announcement comes after extensive dialogue with the state's business community including a May meeting of the Governor's Business Restoration Advisory Council discussed various options for small business relief, a survey posted in May on https://reopeningri.com/ which asked Rhode Islander's their priorities for the State's allocation of CARES Act funding, and consultation with industry associations and representatives of the Black and Latino business community.

Overview of Program Categories

Restore RI: $50 million to assist businesses with reopening expenses and fixed costs (e.g. purchasing PPE, purchasing plexiglass, sourcing cleaning supplies, making physical alterations, upgrading technology such as touchless payment and online reservation systems, rent, utilities). 20% of these funds will be designated for minority-owned business enterprises. Grants will be available for up to $15,000 for eligible Rhode Island businesses impacted by COVID-19. Grant amounts will be calculated based on the number of employees and the degree of revenue loss.

$3.5 million to support business repositioning. Creation of a Repositioning program that will fund small businesses' short-term efforts to reposition their businesses by the end of Calendar Year 2020.

$5.5 million to support Technical Assistance and Other Business Supports. Funds provided for a broad range of technical assistance and other business supports to assist small businesses with financial planning and adapting their businesses to the new economic landscape.

$1 million to support businesses navigating receivership.

Up to $2.5 million to non-profits.

$1 million in direct payments to small businesses to access assistance from professionals such as CPAs and financial advisors.

$20 million from the Small Business Development Fund which the General Assembly authorized during the last legislative session. This funding will enable us to offer loans of a size that exceeds the grant amounts.

$5 million application for additional federal grant funding (beyond Rhode Island's CARES Act funding) to support tourism and hospitality.

Note: Up to $12.5 million is available to supplement the Restore RI fund should additional funds be necessary.

Eligibility Criteria Award amounts will be calculated based on the information provided by small businesses in their applications. Businesses must demonstrate they have been impacted by COVID-19 in order to qualify for an award. Program eligibility for Restore RI is anticipated to include the following: Limited to COVID-19-impacted businesses that demonstrate 30% or greater revenue loss (with the highest award amounts reserved for businesses experiencing greater than 50% revenue loss). Small businesses with 1-20 employees or restaurants/caterers of any size. Sole proprietors, government entities, national chains, and non-profits are not eligible for Restore RI at this time. Must have a physical presence in Rhode Island. Must be open or show a plan to reopen. Health care/social assistance businesses and select other industries are not eligible at this time. Additional industry eligibility rules and information will be provided with the application materials. Viability test with streamlined viability analysis for PPP recipients. Required documentation is anticipated to include: Verification of COVID-19 impacts and revenue loss Documentation regarding the use of funds Verification of number of employees Viability test which may include a plan to demonstrate how the business is adapting to the new normal Additional required information such as a federal DUNS number and W9

Completed applications will be approved on a first-come, first served basis.

Applications will be time-stamped upon receipt. To accommodate the high demand for the program and to provide for an effective distribution of funds throughout the state, funding may be awarded in rounds; the program may be adjusted from time to time to ensure the fair allocation of funding. If additional program funds remain after initial application rounds, small businesses with a greater number of employees than currently eligible, sole proprietors, and others may become eligible.

Businesses that require assistance may contact the Rhode Island Commerce Small Business Hotline at (401) 521-HELP.

Today's announcement follows other small business relief programs that Governor Raimondo has announced to support small businesses during the unprecedented pandemic including: securing millions of dollars from Goldman Sachs to assist Rhode Island's traditionally unbanked businesses access the Paycheck Protection Program, a bridge loan program for hospitality and micro businesses, technical support including website development assistance for over 300 small businesses and 500 new laptops for small businesses, the free provision of masks and disinfectant solution to small businesses, and access to an array of Microsoft Suite programs to assist with teleworking, and more. Today's announcement could be supplemented, especially should the Federal government allocate additional stimulus funds to states.

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