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.
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.
Providence Finance Committee Approves Creation of New Administrator of Community Relations & Diversion Position Within Police Department
Ordinances clarify that new position is civilian with no law enforcement powers, while retaining new Major position within the Providence Police Department for a qualified law enforcement professional.
This evening, the Providence City Council’s Committee on Finance voted to approve two ordinances creating and funding a new civilian “Administrator of Community Relations and Diversion” position within the Providence Police Department. The ordinance creating the position clearly details the duties of the new administrator position as a civilian within the police department with no law enforcement powers.
“When my colleagues on the City Council learned that a newly created Major position within the Providence Police Department was being filled with a civilian with no previous policing experience, we heard loud and clear from police and community organizations that this would create confusion about roles, while also passing over highly qualified officers within the police department,” said Councilwoman and Finance Chair Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5). “This was not what the Council intended when we included this position in our original FY 2022 budget, and why we have passed this new amended ordinance, sponsored by Council President Igliozzi, which very clearly details that the Administrator of Community Relations & Diversion is a civilian, administrative position within the police department with no law enforcement powers.”
Continued Ryan, “The Council supports the need for this position to better build trust between our police and the diverse communities across our city. By passing these ordinances we will create this new Administrator of Community Relations & Diversion position while also preserving the Major position within the Providence Police Department for a highly qualified law enforcement professional.”
“We all agree on the importance of maintaining the integrity of the Providence Police Department, while also improving community-police relations. This ordinance will do just that by creating a new Administrator of Community Relations & Diversion position within the police department, and explicitly defining this as a civilian role,” said Council President John Igliozzi (Ward 7). “I commend Chairwoman Ryan and my colleagues on the Finance Committee for their work on this ordinance and look forward to its passage by the full City Council in the coming weeks.”
A job description for the new Administrator of Community Relations & Diversion position has been created and can be found here.
The ordinances approved by the Finance Committee will now go to the full City Council for final approval, expected in October.
City Council President John J. Igliozzi, joined by other Council colleagues has sent an open letter urging Mayor Jorge Elorza to work with the Council to reclassify the Community Relations and Diversion Services Police Major position to a Public Safety Community-Police Liaison, and to clarify that the new role is a civilian position. The open letter also notes that the Council is prepared to authorize a new Police Major position to provide a much-needed opportunity for a minority police officer to rise within the department’s ranks.
Today, the budget ordinances will be reintroduced to rename the new position and clarify its scope and role, and to create a new Police Major position.
The full open letter to Mayor Elorza can be found in PDF format using this link.
“The City Council strongly supports the creation of a Community Relations and Diversion Services Major position to build greater trust between our police force and the diverse communities of our city. That is why we included funding for such a position in our FY 2022 budget.
Michael Stephens has a commendable record of community leadership and service with the Providence Recreation Department. These are admirable qualifications for a civilian community-police liaison position.
They are, however, not the qualifications for the position of Major within the Providence Police Department’s command structure, particularly as many other trained officers have worked hard to move up the ranks within our police force.
The City Council stands ready to work with Mayor Elorza to change the name and scope of this position from Providence Police Department Major to Public Safety Community-Police Liaison. This will resolve any confusion about roles and make clear that this is a civilian position.”