Published on Wednesday, March 02, 2022

$8 million in grants to be made available to businesses and organizations in the hospitality, tourism, and event sectors financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as part of Governor McKee’s RI Rebounds Initiative.

PROVIDENCE, RI – Today, Governor Dan McKee and Rhode Island Commerce announced an $8 million grant program to assist businesses and organizations in the hospitality, tourism, and event sectors that suffered significant financial loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant program, part of Governor McKee’s Rhode Island Rebounds initiative will provide direct financial relief across the following three categories:

  • Restaurants, event related organizations, and valet operators
  • Hotels, travel agents, tour guides/operators
  • Arts and culture organizations

“Our Administration is committed to supporting local businesses and ensuring Rhode Island’s vibrant hospitality, tourism, and event sectors rebound from the pandemic with strength,” said Governor Dan McKee. “I’m grateful to the Speaker, Senate President and members of the General Assembly for passing our RI Rebounds proposal which allows us to deliver this crucial funding.”

“Rhode Island’s tourism, hospitality and arts and culture are a big reason why Rhode Island draws so many visitors from near and far,” said Lt. Governor Sabina Matos. “Unfortunately, these same businesses have experienced some of our local economy’s biggest losses due to the pandemic. We are excited to announce this grant program today and look forward to welcoming visitors to our great state this upcoming summer!”

“Rhode Island’s economic recovery is strong overall, but – as is true across the country – it’s an uneven recovery. The hospitality, tourism, and event sectors have experienced the greatest impacts in the pandemic era,” said RI Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor. “This grant program will help businesses in these sectors make it through to the other side of the COVID downturn. We thank Governor McKee and Lt. Governor Matos, Speaker Shekarchi, and Senate President Ruggerio for creating and passing the Rhode Island Rebounds package that funds this program. And we thank our technical assistance and community partners for helping the businesses of our state as they apply for this program.”

Eligibility requirements include demonstration of at least 35% revenue loss comparing 2021 to 2019. This program was designed using tax and industry data with the goal of supporting the hard-hit tourism, hospitality, and event industries of the state. Eligible restaurants and event professionals will receive a flat grant of $12,500, minus any Rhode Island Rebounds Small Business Grant funds they may have received. Hotels, tour guides, travel agents, and arts and culture organizations will receive grants of up to a maximum of $250,000 which will be sized based on program criteria.

More information about eligibility requirements and how businesses can prepare to apply as well as information regarding upcoming webinars can be found on the Rhode Island Commerce website: www.commerceri.com/RIRebounds. Information about when applications will be accepted will be posted next week. Commerce will be hosting an initial webinar for interested businesses and organizations on their Facebook page on Wednesday March 9, 2022. For those unable to attend the live webinar, the video will also be available on Commerce’s website and YouTube channel.

This program is funded by the American Rescue Plan Act’s State Fiscal Recovery Funds. Earlier this year RI Commerce unveiled the Small Business Grants program and the Take it Outside initiative. In their first act of 2022, the General Assembly approved Governor McKee’s Rhode Island Rebounds Down Payment proposal, which included relief for children and families, small businesses, and investments for affordable housing.

The Rhode Island Rebounds initiative builds upon previous small business assistance efforts, including the Rhode Island Relief grant program, which launched in April of 2021, weeks after Governor McKee took office. The roughly $18 million grant program helped more than 3,700 businesses with grants of $5,000 each. Additional efforts undertaken by the McKee Administration to support businesses (with an emphasis on small businesses) include the Back to Business RI initiative, which worked to assist businesses struggling with labor shortages; the expansion and codification of outdoor dining and liquor-to-go laws; and the launch of RI Ready, a statewide site-readiness program.