R.I. offers relief to small businesses with new short-term bridge loans

RHODE ISLAND (WLNE) – Governor Gina Raimondo announced the state is launching a short-term bridge loan program for restaurants and micro businesses (business with up to 10 employees).

The program is funded by $1M from Commerce’s Small Business Loan Fund and $1M from Bank Newport.

“The most heartbreaking stories I’m hearing now are the stories of small businesses who are closed and worrying if you’ll ever reopen,” said Raimondo.

One of those businesses is Operation: Made, a gift shop is Warwick that was forced to close Monday as a non-essential retail business under the governor’s executive order.

“We need $1,400 which is our monthly expenses,” said store owner Nicole O’Brien.

The state loans are meant to tide businesses like Operation: Made over until their federal SBA loans arrive.

O’Brien applied for her federal loan three days ago and doesn’t know when it will come in or how long she can stay open without it.

“We have enough to cover us for about 14 more days,” said O’Brien.

She said she was excited to hear about the state’s new short-term loans and will take advantage of it as soon as it becomes available.

Eligible businesses must first apply for the federal SBA emergency disaster loan. Then, starting Friday, businesses can apply for the bridge loans through the LISC website. You can also call 521-HELP or visit commerceri.com for more information.

The short-term bridge loans have 0% interest. Recipients must pay back the loans in 180 days or when they receive their federal SBA loan, whichever comes first.

This program was developed in partnership with the Local Initiative Support Corporation and the Rhode Island Hospitality Association.


Categories: Coronavirus, Rhode Island