PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee and other state leaders announced Monday a new financial relief opportunity for the state’s smallest businesses.

The state is making $20 million in federal CARES Act funding available in the form of $5,000 grants.

Business owners can apply on Commerce RI’s website beginning Thursday, April 15, through Friday, April 30, at 5 p.m. Applications will be reviewed on a first come, first served basis, officials said.

To qualify, a business must have grossed less than $1 million in the 2020 tax year and received less than $25,000 in state pandemic assistance to date.

Businesses will also be asked to demonstrate a net financial need that exceeds the grant amount, as well as how they plan to spend the money. State officials said the funds can be used to cover costs such as wages and operational expenses incurred to remain open during the pandemic or to reopen after being shut down due to the pandemic.

A small business owner himself, McKee said he understands what his fellow owners are going through.

“I know about this roller coaster that we continually are on. This pandemic is something like we’ve ever seen before,” McKee said. “I’ve seen the banking prices, I’ve seen the internet bubble right around 9/11, and the state collapse in 2008, but this has been a challenge for us small businesses.”

“We’re all on board to make sure our small businesses get through this pandemic and come out stronger than when they went into the effort,” he added.

McKee was joined Monday by Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor, House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi, Sen. Maryellen Goodwin, and his nominee for lieutenant governor, Sabina Matos.

Commerce RI has free technical assistance available to any businesses in need of help with submitting their application. Call (401) 521-HELP or visit

Small Business Relief Grant Program: Learn more and apply here »