PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Highly anticipated applications to provide more relief for Rhode Island small businesses are now available online.
Rhode Island Commerce Corporation officials say the program is targeted towards businesses that have been most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
According to Commerce, businesses will need to demonstrate at least 30% revenue loss if they are in a severely-impacted industry, or at least 50% revenue loss for other eligible industries.
“We’re not saying that they haven’t suffered revenue loss, maybe some of their customers didn’t purchase,” Director of Communications for Commerce Matt Scheaff said of the businesses that don’t qualify. “We’re just saying, they need to show a little bit more revenue loss because we’re trying to target these limited dollars to the most impacted businesses.”
“If you are a business that was forced to shut down, due to no fault of your own, maybe it was government regulations, you’re considered severely impacted,” he added.
Monday marks the first round of applications, consisting of 1,500 applications on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The applications consist of a two-part process. Part one is a pre-qualification form, and Commerce says it can take up to two days to review these before moving on to part two of the application.
After a business submits the pre-qualification form, it will receive an email for the second part of the application. Commerce says an application will not be considered complete until both the pre-qualification and the actual application are completed.
In order to be eligible, Commerce states businesses need to have between one and 20 employees. Restaurants and caterers are not subject to an employee cap, and sole proprietors are eligible, as long as they have at least one other employee.
The business also has to be open with a physical presence in Rhode Island or have a plan to be open within 60 days in order to be eligible.
Commerce says the second round of applications will be announced with enough time to get ready to apply, and will also be first come, first serve.
Commerce also says it has partnered with several organizations and has scheduled training and technical assistance sessions for applicants. A listing of upcoming information sessions, virtual office hours, and Facebook lives can be found by visiting the Rhode Island Commerce website or the Rhode Island Commerce Facebook page.
The department has also set up socially distanced work stations at its Providence office for those needing access to technology including printers, scanners, or computers.
Applicants with questions can also email firstname.lastname@example.org.