Small-business development hub project gets $4M federal boost

U.S. COMMERCE SECRETARY and former R.I. Gov. Gina M. Raimondo announced Tuesday that the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration awarded a $4 million grant to Skills for Rhode Island’s Future to establish the Rhode Island Small Business Development Hub. / AP FILE PHOTO/JACQUELYN MARTIN

PROVIDENCE – Nonprofit Skills for Rhode Island’s Future received $4 million in CARES Act funding Tuesday to help create the Rhode Island Small Business Development Hub.

The business hub will provide services to small businesses across the state, including human resources, legal services, finance and accounting, and marketing, and will support business operations in Bristol, Kent, Newport, Providence and Washington counties. The grant, which comes from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, is estimated to help generate $10 million in private investment, create 500 jobs and retain 800 jobs, according to the EDA.

Nina Pande, executive director of Skills for Rhode Island’s Future, could not be immediately reached for comment.

But Gov. Daniel J. McKee in a statement said, “Small businesses employ over half of Rhode Island’s workforce across our 39 cities and towns and have been at the forefront of our state’s economic recovery. We know that challenges persist from the pandemic, that’s why these CARES Act dollars will be so vital.”

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The grant is funded under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act Recovery Assistance, which provides financial assistance to help communities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The $4 million federal award will be matched with $1.2 million in local funds.

“President [Joe] Biden is committed to ensuring that our communities are provided with the resources they need to diversify and grow their economies,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina M. Raimondo said in a statement. “The Rhode Island Small Business Development Hub will provide small and disadvantaged businesses and entrepreneurs with the resources they need to create jobs and promote economic resilience in the region.”

U.S. Rep. David N. Cicilline in a statement said the business hub will provide much needed resources for small businesses and entrepreneurs, “some of whom are still recovering from the pandemic and others who are looking to pursue their dreams and open a business.”

Cicilline continued, “I’m excited to see the growth, good-paying jobs and diversified economy that this federal funding will help to create and will continue to work in Congress to provide our small businesses and entrepreneurs with the support they need to thrive.”

Claudia Chiappa is a PBN staff writer. You may contact her at Chiappa@PBN.com.

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