Aid to Small Business and Impacted Industries
Small businesses are an important contributor to the Rhode Island economy, comprising nearly 99% of all our businesses. According to January 2022 data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Small Business Pulse Survey, 71.6 percent of Rhode Island’s small businesses continued to experience either a moderate or large negative effect from COVID-19. As the state’s economy recovers, the McKee Administration is committed to providing small businesses support to rebound in the short term and weather any future disruptions.
Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund Contribution ($100 million)
The State is using these funds to partially replenish the unemployment insurance (UI) trust fund after the pandemic contributed to an unprecedented increase in UI claims filed in Rhode Island.
The Executive Office of Commerce is managing the Small Business Financial and Technical Assistance program that includes the following components:
- $12.5 million in small business direct grants to help offset lost revenue
- $10.5 million in small business technical assistance for long-term business capacity building
- $7.5 million for small business public health capital improvements
- $1.5 million for the administration of these programs
To be eligible for this program, businesses must have less than $1 million in annual gross revenues and demonstrate a negative impact from the pandemic. They cannot receive more than $10,000 from any single part of the program and cannot receive more than $20,000 in all. At least 20% of all funds are reserved for minority business enterprises.
The hospitality, tourism, and events industries were hit hard by the pandemic as business and leisure travel was disrupted. The sector lost 37,400 jobs in the initial months of the pandemic (a 61.5% decline), according to seasonally adjusted employment data from the Department of Labor and Training. As of December 2021, the sector was 7,100 jobs below pre-pandemic levels. The Executive Office of Commerce is assisting this sector with:
- $8 million in hospitality, tourism, and events direct grants to help offset lost revenue
- $3 million to support outdoor and public space capital improvements and event programming
- $2 million for tourism marketing in coordination with Rhode Island state tourism regional councils and the Airport Corporation
To be eligible for this program, businesses must demonstrate a negative impact from the pandemic.
Aid to the Convention Center ($10 million)
The pandemic forced the cancellation of events at the venues operated by the Rhode Island Convention Center Authority (RICCA), which is using these funds on projects to accelerate revenues and improve operations.