Small business owners hold car rally to push Governor to release more CARES Act funds

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Small business owners in Rhode Island rallied Wednesday morning to get the attention of Governor Gina Raimondo, calling on her to release more CARES Act funds.

The socially distanced car rally was put on by the Rhode Island Small Business Coalition. The coalition is urging the state to release an additional $150 million to small businesses in the state.

“Our small business community is frustrated. We’re devastated. We’re really really hurting and we feel that our voices have not been heard. So, we listened to the small businesses, we came together, we organized this rally to show the Governor, to show the state, and to show other Rhode Islanders that we need help, that our voice must be heard and that’s why are here today,” said Chris Parisi of the coalition.

Small business owners representing a variety of industries were in attendance, from the wedding and events industry, to the performing arts industry and the restaurant industry.

“We’re at a loss here,” said Luke Renchan of Luke Renchan Entertainment. “We’ve got no support, we’ve got no funding, people can’t celebrate the most important days of their lives, the winter is coming up… It’s gonna be a dark winter for all of us if we do not get funding. We need funding.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Raimondo announced at her weekly press conference that $50 million would be available for small business owners to apply for to help get them through the two-week pause.

The application will go live on Friday here.

But, the coalition said after the announcement that is not enough.

“This program of $50M for small businesses does not hit the mark,” Parisi said in an emailed statement to ABC6. “Businesses have been struggling before the Pause, this doesn’t help ALL small businesses. We’re happy to hear that the businesses being forced to shut down are being helped out, but even that seems to be limited to those that were open before this year. We feel our suggestion of $75M in additional funds to all small businesses would be more beneficial to our economy, in addition to added funds to businesses & employees affected by the Pause.”

Lt. Gov. Dan McKee responded to the Governor’s announcement in an email statement, saying more funds should be allocated to the Restore RI fund and the application process should be made easier.

“I urge the Governor to at least release the additional $12.5 million into the Restore RI program and implement the same, simplified application currently being used for the restaurant and bar grant program through the Division of Taxation.”

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