PROVIDENCE, RI – Governor Dan McKee and Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor announced a new grant program to assist small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will use $20 million in CARES Act funds to give qualifying businesses $5,000 grants. The Governor was joined by Lt. Governor nominee Sabina Matos, House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi and Senator Maryellen Goodwin to make the announcement at Executive Cuts Barber Shop, a small business located in downtown Providence.
The first round of applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis beginning, Thursday, April 15, 2021 through Friday, April 30, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. Future rounds and expansions of this program are possible depending upon demand and availability of funds.
"We know that rebuilding Rhode Island's economy will depend on rebuilding our small business economy," said Governor McKee. "Rhode Island small businesses have worked hard to keep their doors open, their customers safe and their workers employed throughout this pandemic. They need our support as we continue the fight against COVID-19 and ramp up vaccination efforts. Our team has been committed to advocating for the small business community since day one of this pandemic. Today, we continue that commitment in the Governor's office with the announcement of the Small Business Relief Grant Program within the first several weeks of our administration. We will continue to identify ways to provide relief to the small businesses who need it most."
"In the face of so many challenges over the past year, our small businesses have been resilient and innovative," said Lt. Governor nominee Sabina Matos. "These grants will hopefully provide a little relief to our small businesses while we work to get Rhode Islanders vaccinated and continue to incrementally open up our economy. I thank the Governor for his leadership on this issue and look forward to partnering with him in getting the word out across the state about this financial resource."
"The COVID crisis continues to impact Rhode Island's small businesses negatively and daily," said Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor. "With these grants, we aim to provide modest but meaningful relief to our small businesses. We thank Governor McKee for justifiably championing our small businesses and for ensuring that our Administration provides this additional needed relief. We also thank our state's congressional delegation and the General Assembly for their continued support."
Grants for qualifying businesses will be awarded at one funding level of $5,000. To be eligible, businesses must be a for-profit business based in Rhode Island, have less than $1 million in gross receipts in the 2020 tax year, and have received less than $25,000 in state COVID-related financial assistance to date. Successful applicants must demonstrate a net financial need that exceeds the $5,000 grant amount. The grant program is designed to help cover costs such as wages or salaries, operational expenses incurred to enable the business to remain open through the state of emergency or costs associated with reopening of a business that was previously shut down due to the pandemic. More information can be found at commerceri.com/reliefgrant.
To assist with the application process, Rhode Island Commerce has made several technical assistance partners available. These organizations can help small businesses complete the application at no cost to the business. Assistance is available in multiple languages including Spanish, Portuguese, Creole, Khmer, Vietnamese and Laotian. More information can be found online at www.commerceri.com or by calling the Small Business Hotline at (401) 521-HELP.