McKee announces $12.5M in small-business grants from ARPA funding

PROVIDENCE – Gov. Daniel J. McKee on Monday announced the availability of up to $5,000 in individual grants from a new $12.5 million state program targeting small businesses that have been hurt by COVID-19.

The grants are part of McKee’s R.I. Rebounds initiative, funded through the American Rescue Plan Act. The funding is aimed at assisting small businesses, and especially the hard-hit tourism, hospitality and event industries impacted by the pandemic.

The R.I. Commerce Corp. board unanimously approved disbursement of the grants through the governor’s R.I. Rebounds Small Business and Impacted Industry Program, during a recent meeting.

“Small businesses continue to face challenges as they work to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said McKee. “Tourism and hospitality businesses – as well as retail and personal service businesses that rely upon foot traffic – continue to face hardships. These grants from my administration’s Rhode Island Rebounds program will provide immediate relief to these businesses and I thank the General Assembly for approving and funding this program.”

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The initial application phase for applying for the grants will open on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. and be accepted through Feb. 15. After the initial application period, the program may reopen if funds remain.

“Even though our COVID-era economic recovery has been strong in general, too many small businesses are continuing to struggle,” said R.I. Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor. “In key sectors, the omicron variant has negatively affected customer demand, adding to the burdens that small businesses are experiencing. This grant program will offer relief to Rhode Island small businesses that need help covering expenses in order to make it through these continuing challenges.”

Commerce Corp. will be hosting an initial webinar for interested businesses on their Facebook page on Monday, Jan. 31, at 3:30 p.m. For those not able to attend the live webinar, the video will also be available on R.I. Commerce Corp.’s website and YouTube channel.

Technical assistance will be provided for those applying at no cost by R.I. Commerce Corp. partners, such as the R.I. Society of Certified Public Accountants and partners of the Small Business Administration Rhode Island District Office, including the Center for Women and Enterprise, Small Business Development Center, and SCORE.

The McKee administration said that if the program is oversubscribed before the end of the initial application period, applications will be prioritized based on factors that include whether an applicant is one or more of the following: a first-time recipient of COVID-19 assistance from the state of Rhode Island, a very small business, and/or a minority or women business enterprise.

The General Assembly’s approval of McKee’s R.I. Rebounds Down Payment ARPA proposal included funding for children and families, small businesses and investments for affordable housing.

Information about eligibility requirements including how businesses can prepare to apply, as well as information regarding upcoming webinars, can be found on the R.I. Commerce Corp. website: commerceri.com/RIRebounds.

Cassius Shuman is a PBN staff writer. Contact him at Shuman@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter @CassiusShuman.

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