PROVIDENCE, RI – Today, Governor McKee announced a $12.5 million grant program to assist small businesses impacted by COVID-19. The grant program, part of Governor McKee's Rhode Island Rebounds down payment initiative, will provide direct financial supports of $2,500 or $5,000 to qualifying small businesses who meet eligibility and need criteria.
"Small businesses continue to face challenges as they work to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic," said Governor McKee. "Tourism and hospitality businesses – as well as retail and personal service businesses that rely upon foot traffic – continue to face hardships. These grants from my Administration's Rhode Island Rebounds program will provide immediate relief to these businesses and I thank the General Assembly for approving and funding this program."
"These past two years have taken a significant toll on our small business community," said Lt. Governor Sabina Matos. "Some small businesses have shut their doors and others are barely getting by. This grant program couldn't come at a better time. These funds will boost our small business economy and provide owners the temporary relief they so desperately need."
The initial application phase will open on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022 at 3:30 p.m. Applications will be accepted through Feb. 15, 2022. After the initial application period, the program may reopen if funds remain. If the program is oversubscribed before the end of the initial application period, applications will be prioritized based on factors including whether an applicant is one or more of the following: a first-time recipient of COVID-19 assistance from the State of Rhode Island, a very small business, and/or a Minority or Women Business Enterprise (MBE/WBE).
"Even though our COVID-era economic recovery has been strong in general, too many small businesses are continuing to struggle" said Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor. "In key sectors, the omicron variant has negatively affected customer demand, adding to the burdens that small businesses are experiencing. This grant program will offer relief to Rhode Island small businesses that need help covering expenses in order to make it through these continuing challenges. We thank Governor McKee, Lt. Governor Matos, Speaker Shekarchi, and Senate President Ruggerio for their leadership and support – and for creating and passing the Rhode Island Rebounds package that funds this program. And we thank our technical assistance and community partners for helping the small businesses of our state as they apply for this program."
More information about eligibility requirements including how businesses can prepare to apply as well as information regarding upcoming webinars can be found on the Rhode Island on the Commerce website: www.commerceri.com/RIRebounds. Commerce will be hosting an initial webinar for interested businesses on their Facebook page today, Monday, Jan. 31, at 3:30 p.m. For those not able to attend the live webinar, the video will also be available on Commerce's website and YouTube channel.
To assist businesses in their applications, technical assistance will be provided at no cost by partners including the Rhode Island Society of Certified Public Accountants and partners of the Small Business Administration Rhode Island District Office, including Center for Women and Enterprise, Small Business Development Center, and SCORE. Additional support will be provided by the Rhode Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Center for Southeast Asians, Roads Consulting, and the Rhode Island Black Business Association. Translation support is available in 10 languages.
This is the first Commerce program to launch of Governor McKee's Rhode Island Rebounds initiative, which is funded by the American Rescue Plan Act's State Fiscal Recovery Funds. In their first act of 2022, the General Assembly approved Governor McKee's Rhode Island Rebounds Down Payment proposal, which included relief for children and families, small businesses, and investments for affordable housing. Other programmatic elements of Governor McKee's Rhode Island Rebounds program will be announced in the near future.
This initiative builds upon previous small business assistance efforts, including the Rhode Island Relief grant program, which launched in April of 2021, weeks after Governor McKee took office. The roughly $18 million grant program helped more than 3,700 businesses with grants of $5,000 each. Additional efforts undertaken by the McKee Administration to support businesses (with an emphasis on small businesses) include the Back to Business RI initiative, which worked to assist businesses struggling with labor shortages; the expansion and codification of outdoor dining and liquor-to-go laws; and the launch of RI Ready, a statewide site-readiness program. ? ###