PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Local business owners are working to be proactive and stay afloat during the pandemic, including those in the heart of Brown University’s campus.

While many of the businesses have been closed, when they are ready to reopen, some of their biggest customers — college students — may not be there.

The Thayer Street District Management Authority (TSDMA) met over a Zoom call Tuesday morning to discuss what businesses can reopen, what that will look like, and how it can help to promote them.

The TSDMA says with the potential of Gov. Gina Raimondo lifting her stay-at-home order and starting to reopen the economy on Saturday, the clock is ticking for businesses to figure out how to comply with the restrictions still in place — this might include offering free parking.

In her daily briefing on Monday, Raimondo offered new details about the first phase of reopening. She said while restaurants still won’t be able to offer dine-in service, some may eventually be able to have outdoor dining as long as social distancing is maintained.

Non-critical retail stores will be able to open during phase one, according to Raimondo, but they’ll have to limit capacity based on the size of the business. She said having customers submit orders online and pick them up is still the safest option.

Here’s how Raimondo’s plan to gradually reopen RI works »

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Recently, a survey went out to Thayer Street businesses asking what they needed during this time. Some businesses reported feeling like they fell through the cracks and didn’t qualify for the first round of assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

“Some of them were brand new to the street and kind of panicked a little bit, so just reaching out, letting people know that we care and we’re here, we can make the connections,” TSDMA Executive Director Donna Personeus said. “We didn’t have the answers, but we were trying to make those personal connections for them so they had somebody to actually call, and that would pick up the phone and walk them through how to get a loan, or how to do PPP, or that kind of thing.”

For an updated list of what’s open and closed on Thayer Street, go here »