COVID-19 Resources for Small Businesses and Nonprofits

The Town of Westerly dedicates this portal to connect businesses and nonprofits in our community with a wide range of mechanisms for COVID-19 relief. Scroll down to find funding opportunities and free services, learn about local/statewide support efforts, and more. All resources are described in a quick-read format that's updated at least once each week (last updated August 7 @ 12:00 PM ET). In the days, weeks, and months ahead, we'll continue working with talented and industrious partners in our community while leveraging our special position as a local government to help you get through this unprecedented time.

Funding Opportunities (Governmental and Public/Private)

The following grant, loan, and relief opportunities are available to qualifying small businesses, nonprofits, and individuals now or recently employed. Remember that you may be eligible for more than one opportunity and that it is extremely important to keep good records to receive the greatest benefits. A majority of these funding opportunities are through the US Small Business Administration (SBA). SBA lenders with a local presence include the Washington Trust Company, Westerly Community Credit Union, Citizens Bank, and Bank of America.

  • Microenterprise Stabilization Grants (May 6 - September 30, 2020) The Town of Westerly is participating in the statewide MicroE Program to offer qualifying small businesses with one to five employees (including owners) grants of $5,000. Funding may be used for a wide range of working capital expenses and does not require repayment. To learn more or apply, click here.
  • SBA Paycheck Protection Loans (April 3 - August 8, 2020) The CARES Act established this program to provide low-interest loans for small businesses, sole proprietors, independent contractors, self-employed individuals, private nonprofits, and 501(c)(19) veterans organizations. These loans can be used for payroll (at least 75% of the total loan) as well as rent, mortgage interest, or utilities (no more than 25% of the total loan). Borrowers able to keep all employees on their payroll for at least eight (8) consecutive weeks will have their loans fully forgiven with valid documentation. To learn more or apply, click here. For any questions, call (800) 659-2955 or send an email to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.
  • SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (March 17 - December 30, 2020) The signing of an Economic Injury Disaster Declaration for Rhode Island allows qualifying SBCs1, private non-profits, employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), and agricultural businesses to access low-interest loans that can provide vital, non-payroll support to help overcome a temporary loss of revenue. Qualifying businesses also have the opportunity to request EIDL Advances (providing up to $10,000 within three days of loan application) or to apply for Express Bridge Loans from SBA (see below) while waiting for approval. To learn more or apply, click here. For any questions, call (800) 659-2955 or send an email to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.
  • SBA 7(a) Loan Relief (March 27 - September 27, 2020) The CARES Act established a reprieve to new and existing small businesses that take out or have taken out a 7(a) loan from the SBA. For the first six (6) months of the CARES Act's passage, the SBA will pay all principal, interest, and fees on behalf of borrowers. If you are an existing borrower, contact your existing lender to confirm you've been automatically enrolled. To learn more about these relief opportunities and others, click here.
  • SBA Express Bridge Loans (March 25, 2020 - March 13, 2021) This pilot program of the SBA offers loans up to $25,000 with a streamlined application process. Small businesses can use this loan as a stop-gap while waiting for a larger Economic Injury Disaster Loan (that can be used to pay back the Express Bridge loan in part or in full). To learn more, click here.
  • Federal Reserve Main Street Loans (June 15, 2020 - TBD) The Federal Reserve is establishing the Main Street Lending Program to offer qualifying small- and medium-sized businesses five (5)-year loans with principal and interest payments deferred for 24 months. The loans are intended to support payroll and the retention of workers for businesses who may not qualify for SBA's Paycheck Protection Program. To learn more or sign up for updates from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, click here.

Funding Opportunities (Non-Governmental and Private)

The following grant, loan, and relief opportunities are available to qualifying small businesses, nonprofits, and individuals now or recently employed.* Remember that you may be eligible for more than one opportunity and that it is extremely important to keep good records to receive the greatest benefits.

  • GoFundMe.org Small Business Relief Fund Grants (March 21, 2020 - TBD) GoFundMe.org has partnered with Yelp and Intuit QuickBooks to offer one-time $500 matching grants to qualifying small businesses with a GoFundMe fundraiser that have been negatively impacted by a government mandate related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to learn more and review FAQs.
  • Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grants (Ongoing) The Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grants COVID-19 Fund offers grants up to $1,500 to qualifying experimental artists whose upcoming performances or exhibitions have been postponed or canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To learn more or apply, click here.
  • Fundbox (Ongoing) Fundbox provides small businesses up to $100,000 advanced payments for unpaid customer invoices and direct lines of credit with 12- or 24-week repayment periods. Fundbox deposits funds within two (2) business days and assumes the role of collecting payment to ensure small businesses have access to receivables they're owed. To learn more or apply, click here.
  • RI Hospitality Employee Relief Fund (Ongoing) The RI Hospitality Education Foundation is offering financial assistance to food service, lodging, and tourism employees of RI Hospitality Association members laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic and in need of supporting their families with basic needs. To learn more or apply, click here.
  • LISC Rapid Relief and Resiliency Fund (Coming Soon!) The Local Initiatives Support Corporation, with funding from Sam's Club, has opened four application rounds to grant small businesses up to $10,000 for eligible expenses. Click here to learn more and sign up for updates on future rounds.
  • Westerly is not a location eligible for Amazon Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund Grants.

Staying Informed

The Lieutenant Governor is hosting conference calls every Tuesday and Friday at 12:00 PM to provide the latest updates from the State on business resources. Dial in to the meetings at (866) 880-0098 with code 549-335-14#.

For other ways to receive important updates related to COVID-19 relief and the reopening of our economy:

  • Visit the official Reopening RI website here
  • Watch the Governor's weekly press briefings here
  • Sign up for daily email updates from the Governor here
  • Sign up for the Small Business Administration's newsletter here
  • Follow the Town of Westerly's Facebook page here
  • Follow the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce's Facebook page here

Free Services

The following organizations are providing the following no cost services to small businesses in need.*

Local and Statewide Support Efforts

The following campaigns and programs are helping local businesses to stay active and better cope with the economic and public health challenges they're facing.*

  • PPE for Small Businesses, including 500,000 face masks and vouchers for one-gallon disinfectant solution from a participating Ocean State Job Lot, will begin being distributed statewide on Monday, May 18, 2020. Businesses with 50 or fewer employees that are open or reopening will have access to one month's supply of these PPE upon showing their completed COVID-19 control plan (four pages). A local pickup location  for face masks is 1 Chamber Way (Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce). To learn more about pickup hours and procedures, click here.
  • Launch Hand Sanitizer is being produced by Grey Sail Spirits for free distribution to local businesses and organizations upon request. Those interested should contact the Ocean Community Chamber Foundation, which is leading coordination.
  • Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce Gift Certificates are being awarded for supporting local businesses! Submit a photo of yourself patronizing a local business to the Chamber and enter in for a chance to win a Chamber gift certificate that's accepted at more than 250 area businesses! To see an up-to-date list of restaurants and food establishments offering pick-up or delivery, click here. To purchase Chamber gift certificates directly online, click here.
  • Rhode Island Superior Court's Business Recovery Plan has been created to provide supervised protections for businesses across the state struggling to pay off debts after January 15, 2020. The Plan is intended to help these businesses remain operational and access new working capital to get back on track with debt payments. This resource uses a non-liquidating receivership model that will protect businesses from the threat of being sold for a period of time during which businesses can focus on generating revenue and returning to good-standing with their creditors. To learn more, click here.
  • Shop Local Facebook Live Events! are broadcasts being conducted by the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce every weekend to help member businesses keep connected with customers. Businesses can showcase products and merchandise while viewers can call in to buy and schedule curbside pickup or delivery. To learn more, click here.

Active Business Restrictions

The following sources should be consulted by small businesses to determine if they're temporary closing is essential to helping Westerly and Rhode Island slow the spread and flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases.

Tax Deadlines and Relief

The federal and state 2019 tax filing deadline extensions have now passed. The following sources should be consulted regarding tax relief matters related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including COVID-19-related sick leave cost reimbursements:

How can we help?

Do you know of a resource we haven't mentioned? Is there something the Town or its partners can do to assist you with the challenges your facing? Did this webpage have what you were looking for? Please reach out to any of the following contacts to let us know more:

  • Lisa Pellegrini, Director of Development Services - lpellegrini@westerlyri.gov
  • Alyse Oziolor, Principal Planner - aoziolor@westerlyri.gov
The 2019-20 coronavirus pandemic is an ongoing and continuously-developing situation. We're thankful for the patience and support of our small businesses and nonprofits, as well as their advocates, during this time.

* Non-governmental resources are provided for informational purposes only and are not endorsed by the Town of Westerly without official action.