WPRI: Goldman Sachs announces $10M RI small-biz loan program | Rhode Island Commerce

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The investment bank Goldman Sachs has committed $10 million to make emergency loans to small businesses and nonprofits in Rhode Island hit hard by the coronavirus crisis, state leaders announced Monday.

Goldman is providing the loans through the new SBA Paycheck Protection Program in partnership with the R.I. Commerce Corp. and the nonprofit Community Reinvestment Fund, USA. Eligible employers can borrow up to $250,000 to cover payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent or utilities. Parts of the loan may be forgiven if workers are retained. No fees, collateral or guarantees are necessary.

State officials said the Goldman program is designed for enterprises that have not been able to obtain a PPP loan through a traditional bank or other lender. Applications are now being accepted on CommerceRI.com.

During a conference call Monday morning, Gov. Gina Raimondo said the program flowed out of a multiyear partnership the state has developed with Goldman, most notably through the bank’s 10,000 Small Businesses program. More than 250 Rhode Island firms have gone through the program, which provides training and other forms of support, since it began in 2016.

Raimondo said she contacted John Rogers, an executive vice president at Goldman, for help soon after the Paycheck Protection Program suffered a somewhat rocky rollout.

“We continue to hear from small businesses that are frustrated and can’t get their applications processed,” she said. “I knew I had to do something more and I reached out to John Rogers at Goldman and asked if they were going to do anything to help small businesses.”

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, a senior member of the Senate committee that oversees banks, said it was “really great that Goldman Sachs has stepped up.”

“This is one of the biggest crises – if not the biggest – to face Rhode Island in my lifetime,” said Reed.

Goldman’s lending partner, Community Reinvestment Fund, USA, is a federally designated Community Development Financial Institution which focuses on providing financial services to traditionally underserved communities. Its co-founder and CEO, Frank Altman, is a Brown University graduate.

“So I have a special connection,” he said.