PROVIDENCE, RI - Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor joined with small business loan recipients, lending partners and community members at Sin bakery today to celebrate the success of the state's Small Business Assistance Program that continue to play an important role in Rhode Island's economic comeback.
Since the program was announced in November 2016, the state-backed loan fund--the first state-funded small business loan program in memory--has collectively awarded more than $6.7 million in loans, supporting 55 small businesses throughout Rhode Island.
"Small business is the backbone of our economy, and the state's support of those businesses has played a leading role in our successful effort to drive down unemployment and boost job creation," said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. "Our progress isn't accidental. We've gone from the 36th worst economy to the 9th best because of initiatives like the Small Business Assistance Program that provide opportunity for our small businesses to thrive."
Loans provided through the Small Business Assistance Fund help small businesses having difficulty obtaining adequate credit from traditional lending organizations to access much-needed capital. The program focuses on women-owned and minority-owned businesses as well as those in Rhode Island's underserved communities.
"Small businesses comprise more than 90% of Rhode Island businesses. They are truly the lifeblood of our economy and it is crucial that they succeed," said Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor. "Paired with our Innovation Voucher grant program, our organization has helped more than 100 small businesses in a wide variety of industries gain much-needed access to capital. That means that these small Rhode Island businesses have the chance to grow--and to create job opportunities for Rhode Islanders."
Governor Raimondo began revamping Rhode Island's approach to economic development as soon as she took office. Under her leadership, the state has added 16,500 jobs, and the unemployment rate has been cut by one-third. There are more jobs in Rhode Island today than there have been at any other point in state history.
The community lenders involved in the Small Business Assistance Program play a key role in taking the time to get to know the applicants. The six lenders are: Business Development Corporation, BDCRI, Community Investment Corporation, Center for Women and Enterprise, SEED Corporation, and Social Enterprise Greenhouse.
There is still funding available for small businesses and interested parties should contact Dan Jennings at the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation at (401) 278-9159.