Coronavirus Small Business Relief for Rhode Island

The ongoing spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has had lasting impacts on US small businesses. Federal, state, and local governments have created relief assistance to support small business owners.

Our guide to Coronavirus Small Business Relief for Rhode Island provides information on grants, loans, tax relief, and emergency assistance for all small businesses, both on a federal level and on a state level.


COVID Small Business Relief: Loans and Grants

Depending on the size of your small business, you may be qualified for certain loans and grants on both the federal and state level.

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What is considered a small business?

Small businesses are defined based on what type of industry they belong to. To determine if your business is considered to be a small business by the Small Business Administration, visit the SBA Size Standards webpage.

COVID Federal Small Business Help

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is providing disaster loan assistance in all states. These low-interest loans are targeted toward small businesses and nonprofits that have experienced severe economic injury due to the coronavirus.

Read more about the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program to see if your small business qualifies. You can also download the SBA’s Rhode Island EIDL Fact Sheet for more information.

As part of the Coronavirus Aid Package (CARES Act), small businesses can also apply for forgivable loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that can be used to pay employees and fund other day-to-day business operations. To learn more, visit our guide to the CARES Act or read about the Paycheck Protection Program in particular.

COVID State Small Business Help

As of April 27th, 2020, the State of Rhode Island has no state-regulated loans or grants that are extended to small businesses affected by the coronavirus.

For updates, visit the Rhode Island Commerce website.

COVID Local Small Business Help

Mayor Donald Grebien and the Pawtucket City Council announced a new emergency loan program to quickly get funds to business owners. This was created by the City's Pawtucket Business Development Corporation (PBDC).

See if your business is eligible by reading and filling out the Pawtucket's Business Development Corporation COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program Application.

Goldman Sachs is offering $10 million for loans to small businesses through a partnership with Rhode Island Commerce and Reinvestment Fund, USA (CRF). These Paycheck Protection Progam (PPP) loans are for small businesses and nonprofits that have not been able to submit a PPP application through another lending institution. 

Visit the Rhode Island Commerce website to see if your business is eligible for the Goldman Sachs PPP loans.

COVID Small Business Relief: Private Sources

Some private companies and organizations have established grants for small business relief. Facebook is one such company. The Facebook small business grant was created to help small business owners amid disruptions that are being caused by the coronavirus.   

Certain credit card companies and banks, like Bank of America, are also offering economic relief for their small business members.

For a larger list, visit our guide to private grants for small business relief.

COVID-Related Tax Relief & Federal Paid Leave

Both federal and state governments are actively providing tax assistance for small businesses as well as updated employee leave policies.

Tax Relief

The federal government has extended the payment deadline for all first-quarter tax payments from April 15th, 2020 to July 15th, 2020. Small businesses must file IRS Form 7004 to extend their tax payments, while individuals must file IRS Form 4868.

State Tax Relief

The State of Rhode Island extended the state income tax filing and payment deadline to July 15th, 2020, for certain entities and individuals.

For more information, visit the State of Rhode Island Division of Taxation Department of Revenue.

Changes to Federal Paid Leave

As of March 18th, 2020, the federal government is providing certain workers paid sick leave in the event that they are ill, quarantined, or seeking medical care.

This relief act applies to employees at small, midsize, and nonprofit companies so long as the employee has been employed for more than 30 days. For more information, you can read the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

The Department of Labor also recommends that small business employers check if their employee’s sick leave is covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). If an employee or their family is incapacitated due to the coronavirus (or any pandemic illness), their employer is required to provide job-protected, unpaid leave.

So long as employers are covered, they are required to abide by federal FMLA and state FMLA laws. For more information on the FMLA, check out the Department of Labor’s website.

Running Your Business During Coronavirus Pandemic

Because of the ever-changing nature of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to set business maintenance policies for you and your employees.

Emergency Guidelines

In the event that your small business undergoes financial difficulties during the coronavirus spread, consider implementing these guidelines for the good of your business and its employees:

  • Consider putting employees on temporary leave instead of terminating them
  • Communicate with customers regarding business closures, reduction of hours, or maintenance changes
  • Diversify your suppliers or stock inventory with an adequate amount of supplies to last an extended period of time
  • Contact your insurance agent to review any business interruption policies that your business may have in place
  • Prepare a plan with your employees regarding present and future business actions regarding the virus
  • Review your emergency business continuity plan. If you don’t have one, take a look at New York’s Emergency Planning Process Sheet.
  • Determine whether your business is considered essential or nonessential. Visit our guide to essential businesses for more information.

For more business solutions, visit the SBA website.

Unemployment Insurance

The Coronavirus Aid Package (CARES Act) is providing extended unemployment benefits to workers who are ineligible for regular unemployment programs but are out of work solely because of the coronavirus pandemic. Unemployment compensation has also been extended by 13 weeks.

The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (DLT) has waived the waiting period for COVID-related unemployment insurance claims.

For more information, please visit the Rhode Island Commerce website for COVID-19 Resources and FAQs.

The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training Workplace Fact Sheet is a helpful source as well.

NOTE: Workers cannot file for unemployment if they are receiving any kind of direct financial help from your business.

Employee Safety

Small business employers should also establish strategies with their employees and customers to avoid spreading the virus:

  • Encourage sick employees and customers to stay home
  • Separate sick employees from the rest of the employees and encourage them to go home
  • Practice good self-hygiene
  • Avoid travel
  • Clean all work environments routinely and thoroughly

For more guidelines, visit the CDC’s website. You can create your own guidelines poster.

For periodic state updates, visit the State of Rhode Island Department of Health website.

NOTE: The State of Rhode Island has issued a “stay-at-home” executive order shutting down non-essential businesses until midnight on May 8th, 2020, unless renewed, modified, or terminated by an Executive Order. To see if your business is considered essential, read the Rhode Island governor’s executive order and review the Press Release in which Governor Raimondo extended restrictions to May 8th.

Remote Workforce

The best way to prevent the spread of the virus in your business is to create a “work from home” policy. If your business is able to provide remote work opportunities for its employees, consider the following strategies:

  • Invest in new technologies and software
  • Provide remote training for employees
  • Establish a remote communication system
  • Enforce a daily routine
  • Trust in your employees’ ability to stay on track

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