$ 1 billion set aside for small RI companies with less than 20 employees

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PROVIDENCE, RI (WPRI) – About 26,000 forgivable loans, totaling $ 2.7 billion, have been made to small businesses in Rhode Island, and more are underway.

Francescos in Providence opened in October at the height of the pandemic.

Owner Frank Schiavone said he was not eligible for any type of loan, but still made it work.

As a family-owned pizzeria tucked off Hope Street in Providence, Francescos has recipes stretching back generations, but was established as Schiavone was stuck at home during the pandemic.

“I was like, ‘I’m very bored, I’m sitting in the house making pizzas,'” said Schiavone. “So I said ‘You know what? I can put this in a display case and see what happens.

But with the pandemic, there have been significant challenges.

“It was stressful not knowing every time you went to the news from week to week,” he said. “The break in December really hurt.”

This is why Paycheck Protection Program (P3) loans were created to help small businesses survive.

The RI Small Business Administration and Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee held a press conference detailing the last revision on Friday.

“Rhode Island is not going to reopen strong without supporting its small businesses,” McKee said.

The overhaul allows small businesses with 20 or fewer employees to apply for loans until March 9, with a $ 1 billion prize pool set aside for them.

After March 9, all small businesses will be eligible again.

But since Francescos is so new, they don’t qualify. Despite this, Schiavone said business is on the rise, this is where it has to stay without the help of a PPP loan.

“I mean, if we keep moving forward and stay in that direction with opening things up, things will definitely improve for us,” he said.

McKee said vaccinations are still his top priority, but helping small businesses will help the state’s overall economy.

On Monday there will be an online forum for Rhode Islanders with questions about the RI Commerce Facebook page.

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