PROVIDENCE, RI—Lt. Governor Dan McKee and members of Rhode Island’s small businesses community today launched an online petition that calls on the state to use at least 10 percent of its $1.25 billion of federal CARES Act funds to establish a grant program for small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Rhode Islanders can sign the petition at rismallbusiness.org/petition.

Through the federal CARES Act, Rhode Island received $1.25 billion in COVID-19 aid funds. A clause within the act outlines that states can allocate the funds to issue grants to small businesses affected by the pandemic. States like New Hampshire, Alaska, Wisconsin, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and others have already leveraged this clause, some allocating up to $400 million for small businesses. 

“Rhode Island small businesses are struggling each day due to the financial impact of COVID-19. We must step up and help them survive before it is too late,” said Lt. Governor Dan McKee. “The CARES Act is crystal clear that states can chose to allocate funds to issue grants to help small businesses. It is time for Rhode Island to make the right choice and support our small business community in an equitable and meaningful way.”  

The petition was announced during the Lt. Governor’s weekly small business virtual town hall meeting on Facebook Live. Local small business owners joined the Lt. Governor in emphasizing the urgency of the request for financial support from the state.

“The well-being of our small business community affects all Rhode Islanders, and for too long our voice has been ignored,” said Chris Parisi, Founder of Trailblaze Marketing in Providence. “That’s why our coalition of small businesses is asking every Rhode Islander to join us in saying that the state must use a portion of its CARES Act funds to help save small businesses now.”

“Small child care facilities like mine continue to face COVID-19 financial challenges that threaten the future of our business,” said Jamestown Councilwoman Nancy Beye, Owner of Jamestown Early Learning Center. “Our small business community must come together, advocate for one another and call on the state to stand by Rhode Island small businesses.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for small businesses across Rhode Island. If the state does not step in and provide financial assistance, many small businesses will never recover,” said Bill Kitsilis, Owner of Angelo’s Palace Pizza in Cumberland. “Small businesses are the backbone of our local economy and right now local jobs, tax revenue, and family livelihoods are at stake.” 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has hurt many small businesses across different communities and industries. For small business owners, the financial struggle is real, the stress is real and the future is uncertain,” said Hernan Padilla, Owner of HITEP CNA Training in Providence. “A CARES Act-funded grant program would be a sign from the state that they value small businesses and the contributions we make to local our economy.”

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