Governor Raimondo is allocating $100 million to help struggling small businesses in Rhode Island.

The distribution will be part of the governor’s Rise Together initiative, which focuses on the state’s infrastructure, job training programs, education, and racial justice, in addition to business assistance.

The first round of funding, from the federal CARES Act money, will be a $50 million direct cash assistance program. Applicants can receive grants of up to $15,000 to cover rent, utilities, and safety resources such as plexi-glass. In order to apply, a business must have less than 20 employees and show significant downturn in income since the advent of the virus. Governor Raimondo says 20 percent of the overall funding will go towards helping minority businesses. 

“We’ve heard a lot from small businesses that yes, they need some money to keep the lights on, but they also need a hand to adjust their business model for this new economy,” Raimondo said.

An additional $26 million in CARES Act funding will go toward assisting businesses adapting to the pandemic with new business models that involve changes like remote work and online sales. Nonprofits will also be eligible to apply.

In addition to the $76 million in CARES Act funding, the Small Business Development Fund will provide new businesses with $24 million to help spur on the state’s private investment sector. Raimondo says she is also working with the Federal Economic Development Administration to secure $5 million in funding for the state’s tourism industry. 

“So the combination is quickly $100 million out the door to small businesses,” Raimondo said. But the governor says the application portal will not be available for a few weeks, and once accepted, businesses will have to wait about a month to receive their funding. 

COVID-19 cases spiked in Rhode Island this weekend, going over 100 for the first time since early June. DOH spokesperson, Joseph Wendelken pointed to a recent uptick in cases among the state’s young adults, which made up 25% of Saturday’s surge. Of the 52 cases reported today, 27% were in the 20-29 year age bracket. Overall, Rhode Islanders in their twenties have a 7% positivity rate, compared to the 2% rate statewide. Wendelken says the DOH is hoping to learn more about the recent spike as contact tracing continues.

Beginning tomorrow, parking at Scarborough and Misquamicut beaches will be reduced to 25%. Over the weekend, roughly 50,000 people visited Rhode Island beaches, a majority of whom were from out of state. Officials say they faced difficulties with crowd control and local businesses complained about customer overflow and antagonism.

“I’m sorry we have to do this, but it’s necessary,” Raimondo said.

The Rhode Island Department of Health also announced today it will conduct a second round of serology tests for COVID-19. The first round, in May, found results indicating that 2.2% of Rhode Islanders had antibodies. DOH Director, Dr. Nicole Alexander Scott, says the second round will test first responders and close-contact government workers.