Restore RI | Rhode Island's COVID-19 Small Business Grant Program

 

Welcome to the COVID-19 small business RESTORE RI grant program page.

Información en espanol.

Thank you for your interest in the Restore Rhode Island grant program. Round 1 of the program is currently closed and not accepting any more applications. Round 2 of the program is expected to open late during the week of August 10 to 15. If you’re interested in applying, please review the information below and begin to gather your required documents. Please stay tuned to http://commerceri.com for more information.

Program Overview

Restore RI is targeted to assist small businesses that have been most severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will provide eligible businesses with grants of up to $15,000. Businesses with more than one employee (in addition to the owner) but not more than 20 full-time equivalent employees as calculated by the grant calculator are eligible for this program. Sole proprietors with at least one employee are also eligible to apply. Note: restaurants and caterers are not subject to the employee cap for purposes of qualification.

For any additional questions about the Restore RI program or application, please contact the RI Commerce Small Business Team by clicking here.

Need In-Person Computer Access? Click here to make an appointment (required) to access printers, scanners, computers at the Commerce office, M-F, 9 AM – 3 PM.  Public libraries are also available, including Cranston, Pawtucket, East Providence and Warwick. To check the status of your local library’s computer access, click here.

Watch: Restore Rhode Island Video Tutorials

Eligibility - Who Qualifies for the Restore RI Grants?

To be eligible for a Restore RI grant, a business must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Operates primarily in an eligible industry;
  • Experienced a revenue loss due to COVID-19 equal to or greater than: (1) 30% if the business is in a severely-impacted industry (defined as retail trades; scenic & sightseeing transportation; arts, entertainment, and recreation; accommodation and food services; and personal care services); or (2) 50% if the business is in a non-severely impacted industry;
  • Has a physical presence in RI.
  • Has at least one employee for which direct payroll taxes are paid, in addition to the owner;
  • Has a DUNS number;
  • Not a non-profit or tax-exempt organization;
  • Has not declared bankruptcy within the past three years;
  • Does not have any federal, state or local tax liens;
  • Had been in operation prior to or on January 1, 2020;
  • Currently open or has a plan to reopen in the next 60 days*; and
  • For a business that is part of a regional or national franchise with locations outside of Rhode Island, if any of the following apply, the business is not eligible: (1) the applicant is owned in whole or in part by the franchisor or an affiliated entity of the franchisor, (2) the applicant or the entity that owns the applicant is headquartered in another state, or (3) the majority ownership of the applicant is held by a resident of another state and the applicant’s state of organization is other than Rhode Island.

Limit on multi-location applicants:  Businesses with shared ownership can receive grants for up to three businesses they own and operate in the state of Rhode Island.

*Businesses that have not yet reopened may receive up to $1,000 prior to reopening.

Grant Amounts

The following table shows the maximum grant amount a business may receive based on revenue loss, number of full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, and whether it operates in a severely impacted industry:

 

  • Maximum grant amount per business is $15,000 or $12,500 in other eligible industries. Final grant amounts for those eligible to receive an award greater than $5,000 will be determined based on a showing of eligible expenses up to the maximum award your business is eligible to receive.
  • Which industries are considered severely impacted for purposes of this grant program? Businesses that operate primarily in one of the following industries are considered to be in a severely impacted industry (have NAICS Code beginning with 44, 45, 487, 71, 72, or 812):
    • 44-45  Retail trade
    • 72  Accommodation and food services
    • 812  Personal care services
    • 71  Arts, entertainment, and recreation
    • 487  Scenic & sightseeing transportation
Application Process & Instructions

The following information may be useful to help you understand the process and to enable you to begin preparing application materials.

Completed applications will be approved on a first-come, first-served basis. Applications will be time-stamped upon receipt. 

The application is a two-part process. Part One is a pre-qualification form. Please note, after you submit the pre-qualification form, you will receive an email for Part Two of the application. Because pre-qualification forms must be reviewed, it may take up to two days to receive the follow up email. Your application is not considered complete until you have completed both parts of the application process (pre-qualification and the actual application).

As we have previously indicated, this application process will be operated in rounds. The first round will consist of the first 1,500 applications. The second round will be announced with lead time so that businesses can gear up to apply and the program will be open on a first-come, first-served basis once again.

Step One:  Get Ready to Apply

  • Grant Eligibility & Award Estimator.  Before beginning the online application form, please use the Grant Eligibility & Award Estimator (an Excel spreadsheet; download link) in advance of beginning the grant application. This is a required component of the grant application and will help you determine if you are eligible and what your maximum grant award could be.
  • Create a DUNS number.  As a requirement of the CARES Act, grant recipients are required to have a DUNS number. A DUNS number is a unique nine-character number used to identify your organization. The federal government uses the DUNS number to track how federal money is allocated.  If you do not already have a DUNS number you can obtain one online free of charge. For more information on the DUNS number and how to apply for one, please go herePlease note that receiving a DUNS number may take up to 2 days.

 

Step Two:  Prequalification form

Once the application period begins, you will be able to complete the pre-qualification form online. Applicants must apply through the online portal that will be provided once the program application launches.

To complete this form, please be prepared to answer the following: 

  • Number of Employees:  Please enter the number of FTEs calculated in the Grant Eligibility & Award Estimator 
  • Revenue loss:  Has your business experienced a year-over-year revenue loss of greater than 30% or 50% during Q2 2020 (April through June) versus Q2 2019 (April through June)? Please use the percentage in the Grant Eligibility & Award Estimator.  Businesses that are less than a year old may compare Q1 2020 to Q2 of 2020 to determine their revenue loss percentage.
  • Is the business a minority-owned company:  Please select yes or no using the definition of minority-owned business to answer yes or no to this question
  • NAICS Code:  Please list your industry by NAICS code in the provided box. Use the full three-digit NAICS code. If you are not sure what industry your business primarily operates in, descriptions of the industries can be found here:  https://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/sssd/naics/naicsrch?chart=2017
  • Is the business currently open:  If not, do you plan to reopen in the next 60 days? Please select yes or no based on whether the business is currently open and operating or if it will be within 60 days of the date of your completed application. 
  • Did you receive a PPP loan:  Select yes or no based on whether the business that will receive the grant received a PPP loan. Note:  If you did not receive a PPP loan, you are still eligible for a grant.
  • Franchise information:  
    • Is the business part of a regional or national franchise that includes franchisees with locations outside of Rhode Island?
    • If you answered yes to the previous question (your business is a franchise), do any of the following apply: (1) the applicant is owned in whole or in part by the franchisor or an affiliated entity of the franchisor, (2) the applicant or the entity that owns the applicant is headquartered in another state, and (3) the majority ownership of the applicant is held by a resident of another state and the applicant’s state of organization is other than Rhode Island?  Note: businesses that answer yes to this question are not eligible to receive a grant.
    • Please note, businesses with common ownership may only receive grants in relation to up to three locations.
  • Amount of Grant Applied For (Maximum of $15,000): Please enter the estimated grant award you are eligible for as calculated by the Grant Eligibility & Award Estimator. Note: the final grant award will be sized based on the eligible expenses information submitted in part two of the application.
  • Primary Contact Details:  Please provide contact information for the applicant. It is recommended that the business owner fill out the application and provide their information during this step.
  • Business Details:  Please fill out business details for the business that will receive the grant.
  • Ownership Structure:  Please fill out the ownership structure information for an owner with a 20% or greater ownership of the business. If the applicant is the only owner of the business or the only owner with a greater than 20% stake in the business, leave this section blank.

When all steps are completed, submit the application. You will receive a confirmation email.


Step Three:  Invitation to Create an Account

When you receive an email inviting you to set up your customer account, you will be instructed to set up a password for your account. Once you have created your password, you can then log in to your account and complete the full application.

 

Step Four:  Complete Application and Grant Documentation 

You will be prompted to provide additional documentation and information to complete your application including:

  • Grant Eligibility & Award Estimator
  • Income statement demonstrating your revenue for Q2 (April – June) of 2020 and Q2 (April – June) of 2019. For those businesses that have been open for less than one year, the applicant must show revenue loss between the first and second quarter of 2020 (January – March 2020 vs. April – June 2020). Please see the FAQ for more information.
  • IRS form 941 from Q1 of 2020 to verify the number of employees and form 1099 for each “independent contractor” a severely-impacted business wishes to include (up to a maximum of 3)
  • The expense calculator listing eligible expenses in excess of the grant amount.  For businesses applying for grants of $5,000 or more, you must provide supporting documents (including receipts, bank statements, invoices, or similar) for expenses in excess of the size of the grant you are seeking.
  • For the owner:  Color copy of Driver’s License, SSN, and most recent tax return
  • For the business:  Business EIN/Tax ID, recent tax return, DUNS number, and bank statements (used to verify the business was in operation and to confirm whether the business has reopened)
  • W9 and business banking information for direct deposit

Please note this list will be updated with more detailed instructions.  Once all documents and questions have been completed, you can submit your application.

 

Step Five:  Application Review

Once you have submitted an application, documentation will be reviewed. Documentation will be reviewed and eligible expenses will be verified based on submitted documentation. Based on this review, your grant will be sized based on the expense information submitted. If you do not have eligible expenses that total or exceed the value of the grant award you are eligible to receive, your grant award will be reduced. 

To accommodate the high demand for the program and to provide for an effective distribution of funds throughout the state, 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, eligibility criteria and other program parameters may be adjusted.

Applications will be time-stamped when completed and will be reviewed on a first come, first served basis. Note:  only completed applications will be reviewed.

FAQs - Eligibility, Award Amount & Documentation

Click on an FAQ topic below to jump to that section.

Additionally:  If you’re a seasonal business and the revenue estimation required in this round does not capture your revenue loss, please be in touch with Commerce staff by emailing seasonal.business@commerceri.com.

List of eligible industries
To determine what industry your business primarily operates in, descriptions of the industries can be found here. During the application process, you will be asked to identify your industry using a full 6-digit NAICS code. You will also need to know your 3-digit NAICS code to use the grant formula calculator.

Eligible Industries. Businesses that operate primarily in one of the industries listed here are eligible.

Click here to see the list of eligible industries.

How is the 30% or 50% revenue loss calculated?
To demonstrate revenue loss, the applicant must show revenue loss between the second quarter of 2020 (April – June 2020) and the second quarter of 2019 (April – June 2020).

For those businesses that have been open for less than one year, the applicant must show revenue loss between the first and second quarter of 2020 (January – March and April – June 2020)

Documentation of revenue loss may be shown by submitting a profit and loss statement or by a similar report generated by an accounting software program (e.g. Quickbooks, Freshbooks, Xero). Support will be offered to businesses that need guidance in putting this documentation together.

How is the number of employees calculated? Do part-time employees or independent contractors count?
A grant eligibility award estimator will calculate your full-time equivalents (FTEs) based on information you provide using the following guidelines:

  • Full-Time Employee working an average of 35+ hours per week during the first quarter of 2020: 1 FTE
  • Part-Time Employee working an average of less than 35 hours per week during the first quarter of 2020: 0.5 FTE
  • For severely-impacted industries only: businesses may count up to three (3) independent contractors as FTEs (solely for the purposes of program eligibility and calculation of grant amounts) if the independent contractor physically works at the establishment for the following minimum number of hours per week on average:
    • 35+ hours: 1 FTE
    • 15-35 hours: 0.5 FTE
    • Less than 15 hours per week may not be included for purposes of the grant program.

 

What definition is the program using for a minority-owned business?
For the purposes of Restore RI grants, a “minority owned business” must be (1) at least 51% owned by such individuals who also control and operate the business; or (2) in the case of a publicly-owned business, at least 51% of the stock is owned by one or more such individuals.
Minority means a person who meets one or more of the following definitions:

  • American Indian or Native American means: all persons having origins in any of the original peoples of North America and who are recognized as an Indian by a tribe or tribal organization.
  • Asian means: All persons having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, the Indian sub-continent, or the Pacific Islands, including, but not limited to China, Japan, Korea, Samoa, India, and the Philippine Islands.
  • Black means: All persons having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa, including, but not limited to, African Americans, and all persons having origins in any of the original peoples of the Cape Verdean Islands.
  • Eskimo or Aleut means: All persons having origins in any of the peoples of Northern Canada, Greenland, Alaska, and Eastern Siberia.
  • Hispanic means: All persons having their origins in any of the Spanish-speaking peoples of Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Central or South America, or the Caribbean Islands. Brazilians (Afro-Brazilian, indigenous/Indian only) shall be listed under Hispanic designation.

 

Are women or veteran owned businesses considered minority owned businesses for the purposes of the Restore RI program?
Businesses owned by women and veterans are encouraged to apply. However, women- and veteran-owned businesses are not considered minority-owned businesses under this program.

 

How much will a typical business receive? How much can I apply for?
The Grant Eligibility & Award Estimator will estimate the maximum grant award a business may be eligible to receive. The final grant award will be sized based on the submission of eligible expenses documents.

A business does not have to apply for the full amount they are eligible for, but they cannot apply for a higher amount. For example, if you are eligible for a $5,500 grant, but only need $4,750 to cover eligible expenses, you should apply for $4,750.

The following are examples of how much a business could receive:

  • A retail business with 5 FTEs that suffered a 30% revenue loss could be eligible for up to $5,500.
  • A restaurant that suffered a greater than 50% revenue loss with 14 or more FTEs could be eligible for a $15,000 grant. Note that restaurants and caterers are not subject to the 20-FTE limit.
  • A manufacturer that suffered a greater than 50% revenue loss and has 12-20 FTEs could be eligible for a $12,500 grant.

 

What can funds be used for? What are COVID related expenses?
The grant recipient may use the proceeds for costs and expenses due to the business interruption or other adverse conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A list of permissible uses follows:

  • Rent or mortgage interest payments (rent payments, the interest paid on a mortgage, condo area maintenance fees, and Condo fees are eligible)
  • Utilities (such as gas, electricity, cable/internet, etc.)
  • Technology upgrades (such as website or hardware upgrades, touchless payment system, digital reservation system, etc.)
  • Physical adaptation changes (such as plexiglass dividers, furniture/fixture modifications, contractor costs for installation, etc.)
  • Supplies or equipment (such as cleaning supplies, masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, face shields, etc)
  • Professional services procured (such as the signage design, construction of space adaptations)
  • Inventory (such as food or perishable supplies)
  • Other COVID-Related Fixed Expenses

 

Expense Documentation
All businesses must submit an expense calculation that incorporates the eligible expenses the grant will cover. The grant will be sized to match the total eligible expenses the business submits during the application process. An eligible expense template is available here (link will download an excel file) and the completed file is a required component of the application.

For businesses applying for grants of $5,000 or more, the expenses must be documented on the expense calculator template and with supporting documentation including receipts, bank statements, invoices, or similar. In order for an expense to count towards a business’s maximum grant award, the business must submit documentation.

It is recommended that businesses required to submit this documentation submit expenses that total more than the eligible grant amount to ensure that the full grant may be awarded.

Impermissible Uses of Funds
The grant recipient may not use the proceeds of the subaward for purposes that are inconsistent with the Federal Coronavirus Relief Fund, as prescribed by 601(a) of the Social Security Act and added by section 5001 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act including all subsequent federal guidance.

A non-exclusive list of impermissible uses follows:

  • Compensation (including salaries, wages, tips, paid leave, and group healthcare benefits);
  • Payment of taxes;
  • Payment of non-business expenses;
  • Political purposes, whether or not the expenses are business related. These expenses include but are not limited to: lobbying activities; donating to a political party; donating to a political action committee or group; use of funds in support of (or in opposition to) a referendum or initiative petition; and
  • Payments to cover specific expenses for which the business has or will otherwise receive reimbursement from another source including but not limited to: other government grant or loan programs or insurance coverage.

If my business is part of a regional or national franchise, am I eligible?
While nationally-owned chain businesses are not eligible to apply, a business that is part of a regional or national franchise that includes franchisees with locations outside of Rhode Island, may apply unless any of the following apply: (1) the applicant is owned in whole or in part by the franchisor or an affiliated entity of the franchisor, (2) the applicant or the entity that owns the applicant is headquartered in another state, or (3) the majority ownership of the applicant is held by a resident of another state and the applicant’s state of organization is other than Rhode Island.

 

If I have more than one Rhode Island location, may I receive more than one grant?
Applicants with common ownership may receive grants for up to three locations. Applicants should apply for three separate grants, one for each location, and fill out the information specific to each location in each of the applications. The business owner can use the same email address and phone number for all three applications, but should be sure to include the correct address for each location.

 

Is my business eligible for a grant if I have not reopened?
In order to be eligible for the grant, a business must be open or have a plan to reopen within 60 days. If a business is not yet open, it may receive up to $1,000 prior to opening.

 

Do I have to be an American citizen for my business to be eligible?
No; however, the applicant that will receive the grant funding must have a valid federal taxpayer identification number [irs.gov] (TIN).

 

What about non-profits? Why aren’t they eligible?
Rhode Island has set aside additional funding for non-profit organizations, which will be facilitated through a separate program.

 

I don’t have access to a scanner. What should I do?
If you need assistance getting electronic copies of documents (for example driver’s license), you may consider taking a photo of the document or using an application such as to convert documents to PDFs. It is strongly recommended that you apply from a computer. If you don’t have a computer, you can access the application on a mobile device such as a smartphone. If you need assistance with completing your application, please contact the RI Commerce Small Business Team by clicking here.

 

Are these grants taxable?
The IRS has published information [irs.gov] indicating that “receipt of a government grant by a business is generally not excluded from the business’s gross income under the Federal Tax Code and therefore is taxable.” Please consult your accountant or tax professional to understand more about your particular tax situation and how this guidance applies.

FAQs – General Program Info

Click on an FAQ topic below to jump to that section:

How was it determined who was eligible for relief?
The program was created following extensive dialogue with the state’s business community including a May meeting of the Governor’s Business Restoration Advisory Council which discussed various options for small business relief, a survey posted in May on www.reopeningri.com which asked Rhode Islander’s their priorities for the State’s allocation of CARES Act funding, consultation with industry associations and representatives of the Black and Latino business community, and studying other state’s small businesses CARE’s Act grant programs.

How soon do the funds start flowing?
We expect funds to start flowing within 30 days of receiving a completed application.

How many businesses do you anticipate will receive funding through Restore RI?
We expect that thousands of businesses will receive funding through Restore RI.

If my business receives an award, will my business name, address, and award amount be made public?
Yes. The federal funding used for these grant awards requires the public disclosure of business names, addresses, and award amounts. If a business does not want this information to be made public, it should not submit the Grant Application.

Outreach Partners & Organizations

Restore Rhode Island Contacts & Outreach Partners

To assist businesses with completing the Restore Rhode Island Grant Program application, we have partnered with several community organizations. Please find their contact information and other resources below.

Commerce:

Center for Southeast Asians:

Hispanic Chamber:

  • Contact Information: 401-400-1340 or info@rihispanicchamber.org
    • Facebook live webinar, Wednesday, 8/5 at 6 PM
    • In person/Zoom application assistance available M-F, 9a-5p; appointments required. Call 401-400-1340 to schedule.
  • Areas of Expertise:
    • Spanish-speaking businesses

Newport Chamber:

  • Contact Information: newportchamber.com, Kate Grotteberg, kate@newportchamber.org; 401-847-1608
    • Zoom office hours: Thursday, 8/6 at 11:30 AM
      • To register, click here
    • Areas of Expertise:
      • Newport/Bristol County businesses

Rhode Island Black Business Association:

  • Contact Information: Click here or call 401-383-1179
  • Areas of Expertise:
    • Black-owned businesses

Rhode Island Hospitality Association:

  • Contact Information: 401-223-1120
    • In-person assistance available, appointments required. Call 401-223-1120
    • RIHA membership meeting: Thursday, 8/6 at 9:30 AM
      • To register, click here
    • Areas of Expertise:
      • Hospitality industry
      • Restaurants, hotels, tourism-related businesses

RI SCORE:

  • Contact Information: Schedule a mentor request
  • Areas of Expertise:
    • Technical questions
    • Business entity questions
    • One on one support

Contact

Businesses that require assistance may contact the Rhode Island Commerce Small Business Hotline by clicking here.

 

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