PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Two Rhode Island lawmakers are urging the community to support the state’s small businesses as they advocate for additional funding.
During a virtual conference Monday afternoon, Sen. Louis DiPalma and Rep. Carlos Tobon expressed their support for the immediate allocation of $75 million in CARES Act funding to the Restore RI Grant Program, which would provide additional rounds of relief to small businesses across the state.
“We didn’t need those funds today, we needed them weeks ago,” Tobon said.
Luke Renchan, a local DJ, said ever since March, he’s been struggling to keep his business afloat. Prior to the pandemic, he had 13 employees, but now he is only working with three.
“We did get the PPP so that helped for eight weeks in April, but here it is, November going on December, and there is no relief, there’s nothing,” Renchan said.
Renchan said without additional funding or support from the state, he’s unsure what to do.
“People are going to lose their homes, their businesses, they are losing everything,” Renchan said. “So not only is this virus taking away people, it’s taking away our livelihoods.”
Sara Zarrella, a local photographer, finds herself in the same boat. She said while lawmakers advocate on their behalf for funding, Rhode Islanders should keep the state’s small businesses in mind when shopping for the holidays.
“Since March, I can speak for myself, every single day I am trying to find a way to stay afloat in my own business,” Zarrella said.
With Small Business Saturday coming up, Zarrella encouraged people to think outside the box.
“Support not only the restaurants and the shops, but small business professionals too,” Zarrella said. “So a lot of people might not think about, for example, going to a local studio to have a picture framed.”
Sara Zarella Photography is featured in the new book, “The Front Steps Project: How Communities Found Connection During the COVID-19 Crisis.”
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