Help on the way for East Providence businesses

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Businesses negatively impacted by the ongoing issues with the Washington Bridge may soon be getting an economic boost from the state.

Gov. Dan McKee and R.I. Commerce announced a multi-faceted support strategy Wednesday to help the small businesses affected by the closure of the westbound side of the bridge.


“For the past few months, I have been talking to businesses in and around East Providence, and I know that they are hurting,” McKee said. “This package of supports should not only provide some relief but also help spread the message that East Providence and the East Bay are open for businesses.”

McKee’s administration will be redirecting up to $400,000 in hotel tax revenue for a marketing campaign that will reportedly highlight buying and dining in the communities most impacted by the closure.

Meanwhile, R.I. Commerce will propose to the General Assembly redirecting some State Fiscal Recovery Funds. The proposal would include $300,000 for direct grants and $800,000 for technical assistance or special events that would go to eligible businesses.

R.I. Commerce is also planning on making up to $1 million available through the Main Streets RI Streetscape Improvement Fund. The money could be used to add signage, improve infrastructure and beautify impacted commercial districts.

“Rhode Island’s economy is driven by small businesses,” R.I. Secretary of Commerce Liz Tanner said. “It is these businesses that contribute so much to what makes our communities vibrant and diverse.”

Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, alongside Reps. Seth Magaziner and Gabe Amo, announced the delegation will be pushing for federal aid for small businesses.

The delegation sent a letter to the Small Business Administration (SBA) requesting the expeditious review of small businesses’ applications for aid. The lawmakers also asked the SBA to provide updates on its efforts to deliver federal funds to local businesses.

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