Providence launches grant program for microbusinesses

PROVIDENCE MAYOR Jorge O. Elorza on Monday announced a new city grant program to help microbusinesses hurt by the pandemic. / PBN FILE PHOTO/STEPHANIE ALVAREZ EWENS

PROVIDENCE – Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza on Monday announced a new grant program designed to help microbusinesses recover from COVID-19-related losses.

The Microenterprise Grant Program created in partnership with Local Initiatives Support Corporation Rhode Island will offer grants of up to $10,000 each to 23 city business owners who meet certain criteria. Applicants must have five or fewer employees, including the owner, and meet low-to-moderate income requirements set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The grant program, which launches Oct. 29, is funded through HUD block grant funding. LISC Rhode Island will serve as the program administrator, offering an independent, third-party review of applications and recommending those that best fit the criteria for funding, according to Jeanne Cola, executive director for LISC Rhode Island.

In a virtual press conference Monday, Cola emphasized that unlike other city programs started or expanded to help struggling small businesses, such as those through the Providence Business Loan Fund or the Providence Commercial Corridor Micro-Business Loan Program, the new program uses grants that do not have to be repaid rather than loans. The HUD designation to help low-to-moderate income business owners – with income capped at $48,750 for one person or $69,600 for a family of four – also sets this program apart from others.

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Funding can be used for rent, staffing, utilities and other expenses.

Eligible businesses must be able to demonstrate at least a $1,000 loss from the pandemic and documented annual gross revenue greater than $25,000 in 2019.

Certain businesses, including cannabis-related, real estate rentals and liquor stores are excluded.

For more information, visit Applications will be reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Nancy Lavin is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at

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