City of Providence allocates $7 million of Rescue Plan funding for small business microgrants
Mayor Jorge O. Elorza, Providence City Council President John Igliozzi (ward 7), Council Finance Chair Jo-Ann Ryan (ward 5), and the Providence City Council today launched the City of Providence’s online COVID-19 Small Business Grant Application, designed to provide microgrants to businesses throughout the City of Providence and support economic recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 Small Business Grant Program will offer grants of $2,500 to over 2,700 qualified businesses using nearly $7 million of federal American Rescue Plan relief dollars.
“Small businesses are the heart of our city here in Providence,” said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “We know that our small businesses have been hit hard by COVID-19, and that is why we have offered creative solutions to support our business community such as waiving outdoor expansion fees, offering zero interest loans through the Providence Business Loan Fund and providing free parking in business corridors. Today, I am excited to announce a new program using the City’s Rescue Plan dollars to help businesses navigate financial hardship brought on by the pandemic.”
To be eligible for the grant program, businesses must meet the following requirements:
• Have been established and recognized by the City of Providence by December 31, 2019
• Be in good standing with the City of Providence
o Businesses must be up to date on City taxes and all Department of Licensing requirements
• Have received a City tangible tax bill in the range of $558.00-$55,800.00
o This is determined by tangible assets valued between $5,000 and $1 million, not including real estate.
• Not receive funds and any other financial benefits from the City of $5,000 or more to be eligible
o This includes, but is not limited to, Tax Stabilization Agreements or Community Development Block Grants.
• Intend to stay in business for the following 12 months
• Have less than 240 employees
The City of Providence allocated a portion of American Rescue Plan funding in July, prioritizing anti violence investments and the creation of a COVID-19 Small Business Grant program. Funding was finalized by a City Council ordinance and signed into law by Mayor Elorza.
“One of the top priorities of this City Council has been helping our city’s small businesses weather the incredibly challenging impacts of COVID-19,” said City Council President John Igliozzi. “That is why we approved the use of American Rescue Plan Act funds to create a $7 million Small Business Grant Program to give direct grants of up to $2,500 to Providence small businesses still struggling from the negative economic effects of this ongoing pandemic. I am very pleased that the program is now ready to accept applications from our small business community. My colleagues and I on the Council will be working hard to ensure that all of our city’s small businesses are aware of the program and can apply for the grant dollars they need to get through this difficult stretch and emerge even stronger on the other side.”
“Neighborhood coffee shops, restaurants, tailors, bodegas, hardware stores, pet groomers, and barber shops are the cornerstones of our neighborhoods, and many are still feeling the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Councilwoman and Finance Committee Chair Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5). “That is why the City Council has made providing assistance to Providence’s small businesses a priority and why we are pleased to be launching the Providence Small Business Covid Recovery Grant Program here today. This $7 million program, funded through American Rescue Plan resources, will provide eligible Providence small businesses with grants of up to $2,500 to help them through this challenging time. This is a smart investment in our small businesses which are so critical to our neighborhoods and Providence’s economy.”
Business owners who do not have access to a computer or the technological ability to apply on their own are encouraged to reach out to the City’s Office of Economic Opportunity Small Business Coordinator Victor Regino who will be hosting office hours to support business owners with applications. Individuals can call 3-1-1 or email VRegino@providenceri.gov.
Grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, with a priority review deadline of November 12, 2021. This program will remain open until all funds have been allocated or until July 1, 2022.
I was deeply concerned to learn that a round of bullets just missed a young woman and her sleeping newborn baby in their home on Herschel Street in the early hours of Wednesday morning. I commend the Providence Police Department for their swift work to respond to the scene and investigate this heinous crime.
This life-threatening violence is unacceptable. People deserve to feel safe in their homes, and events like this undermine that sense of safety and security. As Chairwoman of the Council’s Committee on Finance, I secured funding for a new Police Academy to begin immediately after the current academy graduates to return our ranks to a number necessary to support community policing. And I will continue to work to ensure that the Providence Police Department is amply staffed and prepared to address the growing wave of shootings and other crimes throughout the city.
We can only be thankful that this young woman and her newborn baby were not injured on Wednesday morning. We must remain committed to stopping these instances before they happen, through community policing and nonviolence education and diversion programs, and by keeping guns out of the wrong hands.
This evening, the Providence City Council voted unanimously to approve a Providence Home Rule Charter Section 403 resolution to bring charges against City Clerk Shawn Selleck, and to seek his suspension or removal from office. The resolution charges Mr. Selleck with the following:
· Violations of the City Code of Conduct
· Violations of the City Anti-bullying Policy
· Violations of the City Anti-harassment Policy
· Violations of the City Workplace Violence Policy
· Creation of a Toxic Work Environment
· Inappropriate Management
The charges contained in the resolution are based on an independent investigation conducted by respected employment and labor attorney Carly Iafrate, which determined Mr. Selleck violated the City’s Code of Conduct, Anti-Bullying, Anti-Harassment, and Workforce Violence policies through a pattern of bullying, confrontational, and intimidating behavior that created a toxic work environment within the City Clerk’s office.
Pursuant to Section 403, these charges will be presented in writing to the Mayor and Mr. Selleck, and after a 30-day period, the Council will call a public hearing to weigh the charges and vote on the suspension or removal of the City Clerk (two-thirds vote of the Council required).
Tonight, the Providence City Council voted to approve a new position in the police department to help strengthen community relations and public safety in Providence neighborhoods. The budget ordinance which creates the new position also maintains the funding for the position of an additional Police Major which the Council approved in the original FY 2022 budget ordinances adopted in July.
“We are excited to create this new position. The duties and responsibilities will be to coordinate the efforts of the community relations unit and infuse a culture of equity in the department as it shifts back to community policing and diversion services,” stated Council President John J. Igliozzi. “We heard loud and clear from residents and community organizations that the City needs a return to the approach to policing that includes community building and empathy.”
Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5), Chair of the Finance Committee stated, “The Chief of Police provided the Finance Committee with a job description for the new role and a clearly defined scope and charge, which is in line with a civilian (non-sworn police officer) position in the department. We strongly urge the Mayor to publicly post this high profile position, in order to attract the best candidates in an open and fair process.”
The Administrator of Community Relations and Diversion Services salary is $99,517- $125,905 plus health care and benefits.
“We chose to set the Administrator of Community Relations and Diversion Services salary at a substantial level because this is an important job that requires someone with broad and varied experience, with a track record of effective community building and understanding of diversion services,” stated Ryan.
Second passage of the ordinance is scheduled for October 21st.
At tonight’s City Council meeting, Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5) introduced a resolution recognizing the 50-year anniversary of Providence College admitting women to their student body and faculty.
“It is hard to believe that just 50 years ago, women remained limited in their choices for their education, careers and lifestyles. Yet, as the world has modernized, the contributions women have made to their schools, workplaces, families and communities have been innumerable. Both my daughter and I received our Bachelor’s Degrees in Business Administration and MBA Degrees from Providence College, and my family has been so grateful for the opportunities afforded to us thanks to the institution,” stated Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5).
In 1971, Providence College broke the decades long precedent of male exclusivity to modernize their campus and make room for the dynamic and diverse contributions that women would bring to their staff and student body. Since Providence College was founded in 1917, many graduates have gone on to serve their communities as Providence City Councilors. Councilwoman Ryan is the first female graduate of Providence College to serve on the City Council.
“Providence College is among the top employers in the city of Providence. As we look to our past, we can appreciate the progress we have made through the decades. And as we move into the future, I look forward to continuing to work with our valued local institutions to ensure inclusivity and equal opportunities for all,” added Councilwoman Ryan.
Councilwoman Ryan (Ward 5) was elected in 2014. She currently serves as Chair of the City Council Finance Committee, City Board of Investment Commissioner and Member of the City Retirement Board and Water Supply Board. During her tenure she has served in a number of leadership roles including Council Majority Leader, Majority Whip and Chair of the Council Ordinance Committee.
PROVIDENCE, RI – City Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5) issued the following statement regarding ongoing gun violence in the city:
“Yet again we are experiencing another outbreak of gun violence in our city this weekend. This intensifying violent crime is devastating for the victims and their families, city residents and visitors, and also threatens the economic well-being of our city.
“Last night in my neighborhood, a fight started within AJ’s bar on Academy Avenue, and spilled out onto the street, where a gun was fired multiple times. Thankfully, no one was shot, but an individual was taken to the hospital with injuries from the altercation. The Providence licensing board held an emergency meeting today and has ordered AJ’s closed until a hearing is held on Monday to determine next steps. Unfortunately, multiple shootings across Providence have occurred in the last two days, killing one person and leaving several others hospitalized.
“These incidents once again highlight the urgency for Providence to fully restore community policing. Unfortunately, under the current Mayor’s administration, our police ranks have dropped to a historic low, and as a result, community policing has not been feasible, our residents have been placed at risk, and police officer morale has suffered. Thankfully, the current police academy will complete in November; as Chairwoman of the Finance Committee, I will work in earnest to find funds to start a new academy immediately after this class graduates. I also will continue to collaborate with my Council colleagues, Providence residents and business owners, and the police department to ensure that the City adds the necessary resources we need to restore safety to our streets and neighborhoods, including additional officers and diversion and intervention services.”