RGN Calls on McKee Administration and General Assembly to Deploy America Rescue Plan Act Funding
With the passage last week of the American Rescue Plan, Rhode Island state government is expected to receive $1.78 billion in direct payments. As was demonstrated in late 2020, during the allocation of CARES funding for economic development purposes, the partnership between state agencies and established groups, including Restore Greater Newport, were critical to implementation. For that reason, Restore Greater Newport requests that we serve as partners to begin the planning conversation now on how to most effectively allocate these funds to help our Aquidneck Island economy return to pre-Covid-19 levels.
These funds can be used for a range of purposes including to respond to the COVID-19 emergency and address its economic effects, including through aid to households, small businesses, nonprofits, and industries such as tourism and hospitality.
To jumpstart the conversation, restore greater Newport suggests the following actions:
Develop a coordinated effort to work with business associations, their company members and municipal leaders to assess immediate economic and infrastructure needs to aggressively deploy Federal stimulus funding.
Build on the success - and lessons learned – of the CARES Act of Rhode Island Commerce Corporation programs that were rolled out in 2020, and gear up for implementation of refined programming with new stimulus dollars.
Immediately replenish funds for the “Take it Outside” program to help jump start the season. While doing so seek stronger coordination between applicants and other intermediaries.
Invest in additional Technical Assistance programs with intermediaries that have a proven track record of providing the much needed services to assist our businesses with recovery, strategy and planning to meet current consumer trends and new dynamics of the workforce.
Replenish the Restore RI and Business Adaptation programs to allow businesses to recover from losses, make needed investments for safe operations and re-engage their workforce. Increase the grants levels of Restore RI to provide greater impact. With an average award of $9,000 in 2020 the impacts were helpful but limited.
Promote and provide financial support to shop and experience local initiatives, organized by various chamber and nonprofit organizations, in support of local restaurant and retail establishments.
Continue to invest in workforce development efforts which encourage job growth and place un- and underemployed people in open jobs. Make permanent the Real Jobs program and create a partnership that supports general small business training.
Ensure a plan is in place to extend the ‘season’ as long as possible. Move beyond the traditional calendar and build on the creativity experienced in 2020.
“We believe there should be a real balancing act between allowing region wide groups, such as ours, to direct their own stimulus allocations while still participating in a statewide discussion on the appropriation of much needed funds,” said Donovan-Boyle. “Our regional public-private partnership is best equipped to identify and implement the programs and projects that we need to accelerate recovery and deploy strategic development.”
According to Dale Venturini, President of the Rhode Island Hospitality Association (RIHA), last year’s distribution of CARES Act money has given the hospitality industry – one of the hardest hit industries – some valuable insight into an efficient and fair process for all. “Building on our successes of last year, we now know we would benefit considerably from a central system of coordination and dissemination of money and resources to ensure an equitable distribution to all in need – from the largest restaurants to the very smallest, family-owned ones. The RIHA, as the longest serving statewide resource to the hospitality industry, looks forward to playing a role in this undertaking that will inure to the benefit of all regions throughout Rhode Island.”
For more information, contact:
Erin Donovan-Boyle, Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce, 401-474-7009; firstname.lastname@example.org
Patti Doyle, media contact, 401-374-2553; email@example.com