GoLocalProv: Raimondo Administration Expands Restore RI Grant Program; Businesses Now Eligible for Up to $30,000 | Rhode Island Commerce

Originally appearing: https://www.golocalprov.com/business/raimondo-administration-expands-restore-ri-grant-program-businesses-now-eli
By: GoLocalProv Business Team
Posted: Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Governor Gina Raimondo and Rhode Island Commerce on Wednesday announced major expansions to the Restore Rhode Island Grant Program including increasing the size of potential grant awards up to $30,000 – doubling the original grant sizes.

Eligibility for the program is also being increased to allow non-profit organizations and private child care facilities that have not received other CARES Act funding opportunities. These changes will be implemented over the next week. 

Since the Restore Rhode Island grant program began accepting applications about 10 weeks ago, over 1,400 businesses have already received grants totaling more than $11M. Additionally, hundreds of businesses are working their way through the application process. 

More on Expansion

“This pandemic has been devastating for our small businesses, which we know are the lifeblood of Rhode Island’s economy,” said Raimondo. “It’s critical that we provide more financial resources to these businesses as they work to stay afloat and navigate this storm.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the small business and non-profit communities especially hard,” said Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor. “We are pleased to expand Restore program eligibility once again so we can assist child care centers and non-profit organizations. In addition, we are establishing a new program for businesses that need to change direction or adapt significantly in order to make it through this crisis. If you want to find out more about these grant programs, please join one of our upcoming information or technical assistance sessions.”

Rhode Island Commerce today also announced a new grant program for Rhode Island companies whose businesses have been significantly impacted because of the pandemic and have been unable to continue their normal operations.  Beginning next week, Commerce will begin accepting applications for Business Adaptation grants. Business can apply for competitive grants of up to $50,000 to adapt their business. The program is being funded through the state’s Coronavirus Relief fund and is capped at $1.8M.

Applicants who have already received Restore grants and have expenses not covered under their original grant application will be eligible to request additional funding under a streamlined process. Rhode Island Commerce will be holding an information session on these changes on Tuesday, October 20 at 10:30 AM. 

More information on the Business Adaptation Grants will be on www.commerceri.com in the coming days and Rhode Island Commerce staff will be holding information sessions and Zoom office hours to answer questions directly from businesses. 

McKee Pushing for Expansion

Lt. Governor Dan McKee on Monday recommended several revisions to the Restore RI Grant Program to ensure funds are swiftly and simply disbursed to small businesses before the deadline:

– Increase the minimum grant amount to $5,000 and create a simplified application process for businesses that qualify for the minimum amount
– Increase the maximum grant amount from $15,000 to $50,000 now that the employee cap is increased from 20 to 50 
– For any business that was already approved, automatically double the amount of their grant or award them the new minimum amount of $5,000, whichever is greater

Those changes were not included.

“The use-it or lose-it CARES Act deadline is fast approaching. Congress and the administration have not been sufficiently reliable where Rhode Island should gamble with small business funds and risk having them expire on December 30,” said McKee.

“We know the need of the small business community far exceeds the $50M designated for the Restore RI Grant Program,” he added. “The main obstacle to distribution is the complicated, laborious application process which continues to discourage small business owners whose time and resources are already stretched thin. The state must make immediate revisions to the grant program to ensure funds are swiftly dispersed to small businesses before it’s too late.”