FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Governor Raimondo and Rhode Island Commerce today announced recipients of awards totaling more than $3 million to help businesses Take It Outside. The awardees, which include municipalities, Chambers of Commerce, and other intermediary organizations, will receive funds to encourage and increase outdoor commerce in an effort to reduce the transmission rate of COVID-19.
The 41 awarded intermediary organizations will use the funds to cover the cost of purchasing items such as chairs, tables, heat lamps and tents, as well as executing al fresco economic opportunities such as wintertime markets.
"As we enter the fall, it's important that we help businesses extend the outdoor season and continue to reduce the rate of transmission," said Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor. "We were encouraged by applicants' creativity in proposing so many clever and practical ways to help businesses overcome COVID- and climate-related challenges. We thank all of the organizations that applied and are finding ways to take it outside and keep commerce going." The awardees were selected following an RFP process in which Commerce received 85 applications requesting a total of $5.7 million in grant funding. In addition to the grants awarded, select intermediary organizations were awarded funds with increased flexibility to meet the unique needs of the business communities.
Other Take It Outside initiatives include making state-owned land available for fitness classes, outdoor meetings, recreational activities, and equipping outdoor office spaces with WiFi internet.
Due to the high interest and creative proposals, Governor Raimondo announced at her weekly press conference on September 30 that the total Take It Outside grant budget will be increased from $1 million to $5 million. Rhode Island Commerce is currently accepting applications for the second round of funding for the grant program. The deadline for the second round of applications is October 8. More information can be found on www.takeitoutsideRI.com.
The grant recipients are (all dollar amounts 'up to'):
1. Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce, $55,000 This project will expand business and organizations ability to conduct business outdoors by providing them with the necessary infrastructure to do so. The funding will also help fund costs related to closing High Street in Westerly to allow for restaurants, retail, and other businesses to expand their outdoor capacity.
2. Town of Warren, $75,000 The Town of Warren is proposing to provide outdoor equipment to businesses and organization across their town. They would also like to use funds to create the Warren Walkabout, transforming their public spaces into areas available for commercial use.
3. Comprehensive Community Action, Inc., $5,000 The Comprehensive Community Action, Inc. is proposing to use this grant money to help food pantries in Cranston serve their food outdoors.
4. Rhode Island Hospitality Association, $150,000 The Rhode Island Hospitality Association will use grant funds to expand restaurants ability to serve food outdoors. The majority of their budget will be used to purchase outdoor heaters to go to businesses, as well as to purchase blankets to provide to restaurants as part of their Bring Your Own Blanket campaign.
5. Town of Barrington, $30,000 The Town of Barrington is proposing to provide outdoor equipment, such as heat lamps, tents, and tables, to businesses seeking to expand their outdoor capacity. They intend to provide these goods to businesses on a first-come, first-served basis.
6. Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau, $150,000 The proposal is to create a lending library, consisting of items like heat lamps, tables, chairs, and other outdoor goods for businesses and organizations to use.
7. The State Ballet of Rhode Island, $35,000 The State Ballet of Rhode Island project will construct an outdoor stage that the arts community may use in order to conduct performances this fall.
8. Downtown Providence District Mgt. Authority (DID), $80,000 The DID project will enable safety ambassadors to distribute PPE to those using outdoor environments and provide staffing to outdoor events, restaurants, and businesses in Providence.
9. Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, $75,000 The Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce is seeking to purchase and distribute outdoor goods, such as chairs, lighting, heat lamps, and tents, to businesses and organizations that aim to expand their outdoor operations.
10. Warwick Department of Tourism, Culture, & Development, $40,000 This proposal will create a 2020 Autumn Outdoor Marketplace for businesses to sell their goods outside.
11. Town of East Greenwich, $75,000 The Town of East Greenwich is seeking to purchase and distribute outdoor goods, such as igloos, lighting, heat lamps, and tents, to businesses and organizations the aim to expand their outdoor operations.
12. Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, $75,000 The Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce conducted a needs assessment and is seeking to procure and distribute the goods needed by businesses within their network to expand their operations outdoors, including chairs, tables, and heat lamps.
13. Cooperating Libraries Automated Network DBA Ocean State Libraries, $85,000 Ocean State Libraries are seeking funding to provide free public outdoor WiFi to all public libraries across the state of Rhode Island. They plan to do this in partnership with OSHEAN.
14. City of Woonsocket, $90,000 The City of Woonsocket is planning to expand businesses outdoor capacity by providing the necessary infrastructure to these entities. The City is also seeking to expand the libraries outdoor capacity and create more outdoor programming for elderly, and thus more vulnerable, populations.
15. Blackstone Valley Tourism Council, $60,000 The Blackstone Valley Tourism Council is seeking funding to convert the Polar Express to an outside event, where food vendors and other businesses can conduct their operations outside. The funding will be used to purchase equipment necessary to make such a transformation.
16. Federal Hill Commerce Association, $125,000 The Federal Hill Commerce Association is proposing to procure and distribute goods to continue and expand the Al Fresco dining on Atwells Avenue later into the season. Good procured include (but are not limited to) heat lamps, lighting, and signage.
17. Island Moving Company, $15,000 The Island Moving Company is seeking to create outdoor events where movies and performances may be conducted. They will also allow for outdoor food vendors to operate at these events.
18. Farm Fresh Rhode Island, $16,000 Farm Fresh Rhode Island would like to create an outdoor marketplace for food sales from local food vendors.
19. Town of Middletown, $75,000 In partnership with the City of Newport, this proposal would distribute outdoor goods to local businesses and organizations to enable them to conduct their operations outside.
20. City of Newport, $75,000 In partnership with the Town of Middletown, this proposal would distribute outdoor goods to local businesses and organizations to enable them to conduct their operations outside.
21. Town of North Providence, $75,000 North Providence is proposing to procure and distribute goods, such as igloos and heat lamps, to businesses and organizations that would enable them to conduct their operations outside.
22. Providence Foundation, $100,000 The Providence Foundation is seeking funding to (1) purchase and redistribute equipment that helps downtown business take their business outside and (2) create a vibrant (and socially distanced) environment that draws visitors downtown while urging them to dine and shop safely.
23. Hope Street Merchants Association, $13,000 The Hope Street Merchants Association proposes to use funding to crate and outdoor environment for restaurants to serve their goods, as well as help businesses on Hope Street expand their operations onto the sidewalk.
24. Town of Jamestown, $40,000 The Town of Jamestown is seeking funding to (1) equip a parking lot in the center of their town with the necessary infrastructure for restaurants to serve outdoors in colder weather and (2) purchase goods to distribute to businesses that would allow them to conduct their operations outdoors.
25. City of East Providence, $75,000 East Providence is proposing to procure and distribute goods, such as chairs and heat lamps, to businesses and organizations that would enable them to conduct their operations outside.
26. Town of Bristol, $75,000 The Town of Bristol is proposing to procure and distribute goods, such as chairs and heat lamps, to businesses and organizations that would enable them to conduct their operations outside.
27. Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce, $75,000 The Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce is seeking funding to (1) create an outdoor job fair; (2) expand Innovate Newport's outdoor capacity; and (3) procure goods to be distributed to businesses for to expand their outdoor capacity.
28. Progreso Latino, $22,000 Progreso Latino is seeking funding to allow for outdoor programming as well as partner with the Central Falls food pantry to help them conduct their services outside.
29. Narragansett Chamber of Commerce, $50,000 The Narragansett Chamber of Commerce is seeking funding to create an outdoor holiday market for vendors to sell their goods outside for the holiday season.
30. Town of Cumberland, $75,000 The Town of Cumberland is proposing to procure and distribute goods, such as outdoor WiFi and heat lamps, to businesses and organizations that would enable them to conduct their operations outside.
31. WaterFire Providence, $45,000 WaterFire Providence is seeking funding create a space for artists to perform outdoors.
32. NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley, $35,000 NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley is seeking funding to convert the downtown space in Woonsocket into an outdoor venue that would allow neighboring businesses to sell their goods and operate outdoors.
33. The Steel Yard, $80,000 The Steel Yard is seeking to create Take It Outside kits to give to businesses and organizations that would allow them to expand their operations outside. Items in these kits include outdoor lighting, tents, signage, traffic barriers, and more.
34. City of Providence, $150,000 The City of Providence is seeking funding to (1) add outdoor infrastructure to the ice rink, (2) improve outdoor signage, (3) create an outdoor flex team with generators, heaters, etc. to go to support local outdoor events, and (4) create an outdoor market place for the holidays.
35. Town of South Kingstown, $50,000 The Town of South Kingstown is proposing to procure and distribute goods, such as outdoor WiFi and heat lamps, to businesses and organizations that would enable them to conduct their operations outside.
36. Pawtucket Foundation, $70,000 The Pawtucket Foundation is seeking funding to help the food and drink industry expand their operation outdoors by purchasing tables, tents, umbrellas, and patio heaters.
37. Portsmouth Schools, $55,000 The Portsmouth School system is seeking funding to procure goods that enable schools within the district to conduct lessons and activities outdoors.
38. Barrington Schools, $55,000 The Barrington School system is seeking funding to procure goods that enable schools within the district to conduct lessons and activities outdoors.
39. WaterFire Providence in Partnership with the Wilbury Theater Group, $100,000 WaterFire Providence is seeking funding to build an outdoor stage available to the arts community which will include socially distanced seating for patrons and 50 live performances between now and the end of the years.
40. Discover Newport, $60,000 Hearing directly of the need from restaurants in the greater Newport area, Discover Newport is seeking funding to purchase mylar single use blankets for restaurants to distribute to patrons to encourage and promote outdoor dining through the remainder of the year.
41. Festival Ballet Providence, $100,000 The Festival Ballet is seeking funding to build an outdoor stage for professional ballet performances that would run between now and the end of the year. The stage would be used by professional ballet troupes as well as ballet schools from Providence and throughout the state. Festival Ballet tells us that by having this outdoor performance space, it will enable dozens and dozens of workers in the arts to return to work for the holiday season. Some of the infrastructure purchased to make this a reality will also be repurposed for the following seasons as well.
Statewide, On-Call Recipients
The following Round 1 grant recipients will have the flexibility to procure items for businesses and organizations who have specific requests consistent with the Take it Outside program.
Intermediary Organization Total Amount Rhode Island Hospitality Education Foundation $150,000 Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce $75,000 Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce $75,000