Raimondo announces $100 million will go to small businesses relief

RHODE ISLAND (WLNE) – Governor Gina Raimondo announced $100 million in federal and state funds will go to small businesses that have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.

$50 million in grants will be given out to small businesses that have lost at least 30% of their revenue due to the pandemic. The money comes from the state’s $1.25 billion federal coronavirus relief fund.

Overview of Program Categories

Restore RI: $50 million to assist businesses with reopening expenses and fixed costs (e.g. purchasing PPE, purchasing plexiglass, sourcing cleaning supplies, making physical alterations, upgrading technology such as touchless payment and online reservation systems, rent, utilities). 20% of these funds will be designated for minority-owned business enterprises. Grants will be available for up to $15,000 for eligible Rhode Island businesses impacted by COVID-19. Grant amounts will be calculated based on the number of employees and the degree of revenue loss. Applications will be available on https://commerceri.com/ and will be accepted on a rolling basis beginning later this month. 

$3.5 million to support business repositioning. Creation of a Repositioning program that will fund small businesses’ short-term efforts to reposition their businesses by the end of Calendar Year 2020.

$5.5 million to support Technical Assistance and Other Business Supports. Funds provided for a broad range of technical assistance and other business supports to assist small businesses with financial planning and adapting their businesses to the new economic landscape.

$1 million to support businesses navigating receivership.

Up to $2.5 million to non-profits.

$1 million in direct payments to small businesses to access assistance from professionals such as CPAs and financial advisors.

$20 million from the Small Business Development Fund which the General Assembly authorized during the last legislative session. This funding will enable us to offer loans of a size that exceeds the grant amounts.

$5 million application for additional federal grant funding (beyond Rhode Island’s CARES Act funding) to support tourism and hospitality.

Note: Up to $12.5 million is available to supplement the Restore RI fund should additional funds be necessary.


Eligibility Criteria

Award amounts will be calculated based on the information provided by small businesses in their applications. Businesses must demonstrate they have been impacted by COVID-19 in order to qualify for an award.

Program eligibility for Restore RI is anticipated to include the following:

  • Limited to COVID-19-impacted businesses that demonstrate 30% or greater revenue loss (with the highest award amounts reserved for businesses experiencing greater than 50% revenue loss).
  • Small businesses with 1-20 employees or restaurants/caterers of any size. Sole proprietors, government entities, national chains, and non-profits are not eligible for Restore RI at this time.
  • Must have a physical presence in Rhode Island.
  • Must be open or show a plan to reopen.
  • Health care/social assistance businesses and select other industries are not eligible at this time. Additional industry eligibility rules and information will be provided with the application materials.
  • Viability test with streamlined viability analysis for PPP recipients.

Required documentation is anticipated to include:

  • Verification of COVID-19 impacts and revenue loss
  • Documentation regarding the use of funds
  • Verification of number of employees
  • Viability test which may include a plan to demonstrate how the business is adapting to the new normal
  • Additional required information such as a federal DUNS number and W9

Completed applications will be approved on a first-come, first served basis. Applications will be time-stamped upon receipt. To accommodate the high demand for the program and to provide for an effective distribution of funds throughout the state, funding may be awarded in rounds; the program may be adjusted from time to time to ensure the fair allocation of funding. If additional program funds remain after initial application rounds, small businesses with a greater number of employees than currently eligible, sole proprietors, and others may become eligible.

Businesses that require assistance may contact the Rhode Island Commerce Small Business Hotline at (401) 521-HELP.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Politics, Regional News, Rhode Island