Rhode Island to help businesses find enough workers

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island plans to offer businesses struggling to find enough workers up to $5,000 to help them fill positions left vacant by the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Daniel McKee said Tuesday.

The Back to Business initiative will be funded with up to $4.5 million in federal coronavirus relief money, the Democratic governor said. Businesses can use the grant money for sign-on bonuses for new hires, incentive payments for employees who recommend a successful new hire, and for other recruitment activities including job fairs and promotional materials.

“Our administration has worked closely with the business community throughout the pandemic. We have listened to concerns from employers who are having trouble finding workers and believe the Back to Business initiative is an innovative approach to get Rhode Island back to work,” McKee said in a statement.

The grants will be available to Rhode Island-based businesses with fewer than 200 employees, which have suffered job losses during the pandemic and are struggling to find enough help.

Applications will be accepted starting Thursday until Nov. 12.

“We’ve added thousands of jobs to the labor force over the past several months and this program will ensure our progress continues,” said Matthew Weldon, director of the state Department of Labor and Training.

Also Tuesday, McKee and state Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green announced a program to help schools in communities hardest hit by the pandemic.

Under the Learning, Equity, and Accelerated Pathways District Support Program, districts will be eligible for matching funds, ranging from $1.4 million to $4 million, from a pool of more than $20 million to invest in programs that will accelerate student learning.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build a more prosperous, equitable and resilient Rhode Island, especially when it comes to our students and their education,” McKee said.

Eligible districts include Central Falls, East Providence, Johnston, Newport, North Providence, Pawtucket, Providence, Warwick, West Warwick and Woonsocket.

The results of the Rhode Island Comprehensive Assessment System test results released last week showed students’ proficiency in math and English language arts dropped significantly during the pandemic.

Categories: News, Regional News, Rhode Island