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 every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (excluding holidays; last updated May 27 @ 9:15 AM). 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.

  • SBA Paycheck Protection Loans (April 3 - June 30, 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, 2020 - TBD) The signing of an Economic Injury Disaster Declaration for Rhode Island allows qualifying small businesses and nonprofits to access low-interest loans that can provide vital, non-payroll support to help overcome a temporary loss of revenue. Qualifying agricultural 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.
  • Microenterprise Stabilization Grants (May 6, 2020 - TBD) The Town of Westerly is participating in the statewide MicroE program to offer qualifying microenterprises (small businesses with two to five employees) grants that may be used for a wide range of working capital expenses. To learn more or apply, click here.
  • Federal Reserve Main Street Loans (Coming Soon!) The Federal Reserve is establishing the Main Street Lending Program to offer qualifying small- and medium-sized businesses four (4)-year loans with principal and interest payments deferred for 12 months. The loans, starting at a minimum size of $500,000, are intended to support payroll and the retention of workers. 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.

  • Ocean Community One Fund (March 16, 2020 - TBD) The Ocean Community Chamber Foundation has established a website dedicated to help connect monetary donations with local small businesses and nonprofits in need. To learn more or donate, click here.
  • 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.
  • Bartender Emergency Assistance Program Grants (Ongoing) The US Bartenders Guild offers grants for qualifying bartenders, their spouses, or their children who can demonstrate immediate hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic within four (4) to six (6) weeks of approval. USGB membership is not a prerequisite. To learn more or apply, click here.
  • 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 contact the RI Hospitality Education Foundation, click here.
  • 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 daily afternoon 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.
  • Small Business Laptop Program is a Rhode Island Commerce program made possible by the donation of 500 laptops from the Microsoft Corporation. Businesses with fewer than 25 employees may use the devices to make improvements to their business operations and revenue or to promote additional opportunities for their employees to work remotely/virtually. Applications for consideration are due by Tuesday, May 26, 2020 and priority will be given to businesses located in an Opportunity Zone (click here to find and zoom into a map identifying the local Opportunity Zone in Westerly) and those that are owned or led by people of color, women, veterans, and people of low- or moderate-income. To learn more or apply, click here.
  • 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 Town of Westerly's fourth quarter tax payment deadline for real estate, personal property, and motor vehicles has been extended from April 30, 2020 to June 1, 2020For guidance on contactless payment options, click here.

The federal and state 2019 tax filing deadlines have both been extended to July 15, 2020. 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
  • Ben Delaney, Principal Planner - bdelaney@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.