PROVIDENCE — More than 17,000 RI businesses received $2.3 billion from the Paycheck Protection Program during the COVID-19 pandemic, but that hasn’t levered the economy to normal, Gov. Gina M. Raimondo said Wednesday.
“So today I’m announcing that we’ll be making an additional $100 million investment to directly support Rhode Island businesses,” Raimondo said Wednesday during her weekly report on the state’s COVID-19 pandemic response.
“I commend Governor Raimondo for setting aside federal and state funds to help small businesses hurt by COVID-19,” said U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, “The state is trying to move expeditiously in getting these funds out quickly to help save jobs and keep small businesses and non-profits afloat. I worked hard to make these federal funds available and want to see this program help as many Main Street businesses as possible. The focus now is getting this program up and running and ensuring it is effective.”
“The level of struggle is significant and real,” Raimondo said.
So, Raimondo said, the state is using federal pandemic relief funds to aid businesses through the following programs, application information for which will be posted to CommerceRI.com:
- $50 million will be available in a first round of direct cash assistance to aid businesses in adapting to the pandemic with touch-less pay systems, plexiglass, and general aid keeping the lights on. Twenty-five percent of the fund will be earmarked for minority-owned businesses.
- $15,000 grants for RI businesses affected by the pandemic. “This funding is specifically designed to support small businesses that were hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Raimondo said.
- RI will be providing an additional $26 million in support helping businesses to sell online, and instruct on how to keep employees at home.
- $20 million in small business development funding
- $5 million for aid to the tourism industry.
Stefan Pryor, RI secretary of commerce, said the applications will be reviewed to establish applying businesses are viable, and that they have suffered losses as a result of the pandemic. He said prior qualification for a PPP loan would be a positive first step in the vetting process.
Reed said he will continue to work to secure new federal assistance for the Ocean State.
“Clearly, Congress and the Trump Administration need to do more, and I am working to expand federal aid for Rhode Island and trying to convince the Trump Administration to cut needless red tape that is holding back economic recovery. It is absolutely essential that the federal government provide direct cash support to help save families, jobs, businesses and communities while we focus on protecting public health and getting this pandemic under control. We’ve seen positive steps in Rhode Island, but our progress is reversible if the Trump Administration and other states don’t do their part as well.” Reed said.