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April 10 COVID-19 Update: Here’s what Rhode Island businesses need to know

As the news surrounding the global COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, our team at blumshapiro is staying focused on answering the local business community’s most pressing questions. As of Friday,
April 10
, here are the latest updates leaders in Rhode Island’s business community need to know.

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Insights  <  April 10 COVID-19 Update: Here’s what Rhode Island businesses need to know

As the news surrounding the global COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, our team at blumshapiro is staying focused on answering the local business community’s most pressing questions. As of Friday,
April 10
, here are the latest updates leaders in Rhode Island’s business community need to know.

As the news surrounding the global COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, our team at blumshapiro is staying focused on answering the local business community’s most pressing questions.

As of Friday, April 10, here are the latest updates leaders in Rhode Island’s business community need to know. To view last weeks updates, click here

Real-Time Updates

blumshapiro Insights: Industry-by-Industry

Our team at blumshapiro is working every day to provide you with the latest information pertaining to the individual industries in which you operate. You can find real-time updates within the following links:

Our firm’s complete suite of COVID-19 webinars, articles and federal and state guidelines can be found by clicking here.

The Latest

Rhode Island COVID-19 caseload, hospitalizations increase; governor extends restrictions 

As of Thursday, April 9, a total of 1,727 Rhode Islanders had tested positive for COVID-19. The state has reported 43 deaths related to the virus, and 160 patients are currently hospitalized.

As the state continues to “go up the curve,” Governor Gina Raimondo announced on Tuesday extensions of several executive orders related to this crisis.

Filers for Unemployment Insurance continue to rise 

Workers across the state continue to take a hit as the public health crisis continues. As of this week, more than 100,000 Rhode Islanders had filed for Unemployment Insurance due to the impact of COVID-19.

Unemployment information for job-seekers and employers can be found on the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training’s website by clicking here.

The latest tax information 

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo announced in early March that the state would mirror the federal government’s decision to postpone the April 15 tax filing deadline to July 15. The Division of Taxation made that announcement official a few weeks later, sending out an advisory to tax professionals on Friday, March 27, which was most recently updated on Monday, April 6.

The Division of Taxation also announced on March 30 that it will be rescheduling upcoming hearings and other matters as the state navigates this crisis. That guidance can be found by clicking here.

Paycheck Protection Program goes live 

A critical provision of the sweeping federal stimulus package known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) officially went live a week ago today. SBA-approved financial institutions across Rhode Island and around the country are experiencing a wave of applications in the early stages of this program. The two largest banks in the country, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America, reported they had received more than 625,000 applications for more than $80 billion in loans as of Tuesday.

David Fontes, a partner here at blumshapiro, broke down the latest information on the PPP in a guest column in this week’s Providence Business News. You can read the article by clicking here.

Plus, as the national business community scrambles to decipher the “fine-print” details of this initiative, elected leaders and other experts are doing their best to keep business owners informed. The Small Business Administration’s Rhode Island District Office is producing and airing a number of virtual small business events and webinars. These events are listed on the SBA’s website; you can track the latest by clicking here.

Plus, here are some additional resources from around the business community related to the PPP and other provisions included in the CARES Act.

With the volume of applications as high as it is, business owners should expect delays as they go through this process. Rhode Island Treasurer Seth Magaziner has urged local financial institutions to provide PPP Loan service to all applicants (not just existing members or customers), a request the Rhode Island Bankers Association says its members are following.

If business owners cannot find a lender – the state recommends they reach out directly to the Small Business Administration by emailing RhodeIsland_DO@SBA.gov or calling (401) 528-4561.

Finally, when it comes to the PPP Loan and other aspects of the CARES Act, the best advice we can give business leaders is to simply contact your financial professionals and attorneys as soon as possible, and start building a plan that is going to work for you.

National business community requesting additional funds 

Speaking of the PPP, many business leaders across the country strongly believe the program was launched with insufficient funds. The Association for Corporate Growth sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asking Congress to consider adding additional funding to the PPP, and waiving “the overly broad affiliate rules that are unfairly preventing countless small businesses from being eligible to receive the assistance they desperately need.”

Here are few additional resources, courtesy of ACG:

Federal Reserve take additional actions to provide up to $2.3 trillion in loans to support the economy 

On Thursday, April 9, the Federal Reserve announced actions to provide up to $2.3 trillion in loans to businesses across the country. We are tracking what this announcement will mean for Rhode Island businesses. In the meantime, learn more by clicking here.

Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea announces round-up of changes and restrictions 

At the end of last week, the Rhode Island Department of State rolled out a number of policies related to the COVID-19 crisis. Among the changes:

  • The Public Information Office is no longer open for in-person appointments.
  • All walk-in services in the Business Services Division have been suspended.
  • In-person Notary Public trainings are suspended until further notice.
  • Remote Online Notarization (RON) – the “process by which documents are notarized in an electronic form…” – is in effect until further notice.
  • Business Services staff will be available Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., to assist customers over the phone.

Catch up on the full list of new policies and procedures by clicking here.

Rhode Island Superior Court approves COVID-19 Non-Liquidating Receiver Program

Included in the rollout of the Superior Court’s “COVID-19 Business Recovery Plan,” the Non-Liquidating Receiver Program was officially launched and is taking applications this week. In a nutshell, this program allows business owners that have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis to maintain ownership of their business and avoid liquidating their assets while in receivership. Learn more about the program by clicking here.

IRS releases guidance allowing partnerships to amend 2018 and 2019 tax returns 

On April 8, 2020, the IRS released Rev. Proc. 2020-23, which will allow partnerships to amend their 2018 and 2019 tax returns—allowing partnerships to retroactively take advantage of new tax breaks for years in which they have already filed. Find blumshapiro’s breakdown of this guidance by clicking here.

Resources for Rhode Island Businesses

Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee continues hosting regular business forum conference calls 

Typically held on Tuesdays and Fridays at noon each week, Lt. Gov. McKee’s business forum conference calls cover a wide range of topics related to the COVID-19 crisis. They are free to join and open to the public. You can keep an eye on the weekly schedule – and dial-in information – by following Lt. Gov. McKee on Facebook.

Relief Fund for Rhode Island arts & culture workers 

The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts – along with the Rhode Island Foundation, the City of Providence and the Alliance of Artist Communities – recently launched a relief fund to support local self-employed freelance artists. Grants of $1,000 will be awarded and disbursed on a weekly basis to eligible artists across the state. Learn more by clicking here.

“Bridge loan” program for restaurants and micro-businesses

Rhode Island Commerce worked with the Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC), the Rhode Island Hospitality Association and Bank Newport to launch a “short-term bridge loan program for restaurants and small businesses” operating in Rhode Island.

Funded through $1 million from Rhode Island Commerce and $1 million from Bank Newport, this program is only available to restaurants and businesses with 1-10 employees. Learn more by clicking here.

Speaking of the restaurant community, Rhode Island Commerce also aired a webinar this week focused on providing the food & beverage industry with the knowledge and tools they need to set their businesses up for online ordering. You can view that webinar in full by clicking here.

Staying with Rhode Island Commerce, here are a few additional resources:

Wireless carriers offer free unlimited data packages 

The State of Rhode Island worked with AT&T, MetroPCS, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon to offer all Rhode Island residents with an existing smartphone cellular plan free unlimited data during the COVID-19 crisis. These carriers are also waiving late fees and have promised not to suspend service during this crisis.

The state’s Office of Innovation has more information on this offer here.

Local highlights pertaining to available resources and relief programs

The City of East Providence partnered with the East Providence Area Chamber of Commerce to launch two small-business assistance loan programs related to COVID-19. Learn more – and apply – by clicking here.

In other local news, the City of Pawtucket and the Pawtucket Business Development Corporation also rolled out a new, low-interest financing program to help local businesses. Businesses can access up to $10,000 in working capital under this “unique financing tool.” Learn more by clicking here.

In Providence, the City of Providence is constantly updating its website to provide businesses with the latest information and resources. Stay up to date by clicking here.

Rhode Island Student Loan Authority providing aid to local businesses 

The CARES Act includes a provision that will allow employers to provide a student-loan repayment benefit to employees on a tax-free basis. Here in Rhode Island, the state’s Student Loan Authority is encouraging local businesses to take advantage of that federal program by offering a 10% match per employee covered by a repayment program of a participating company. Learn more about their program by clicking here.

Capital Good Fund Launches Crisis Relief Loans 

The Capital Good Fund has developed an emergency loan program – ranging from $300 – $1,500 – to help individuals and families who have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. These loans can be used for paying utilities, covering medical bills, paying rent, purchasing groceries and other uses. Learn more by clicking here.

How you can help

Support local 

Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee worked with the small business community to launch a new website that helps Rhode Islanders connect with and support their favorite shops, stores and restaurants. Learn more – and a buy a gift card to your favorite restaurant – by clicking here.

Donate to the COVID-19 Response Fund 

The Rhode Island Foundation and United Way teamed up at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis to create a dedicated philanthropic fund to support the nonprofit organizations on the frontlines of the pandemic.

The fund is currently accepting grant applications. Learn more, donate, or apply by clicking here.

Help a Neighbor

A fun idea from Narragansett Beer: The iconic brewer this week introduced a #BuyNeighbor campaign on social media, encouraging followers to support the local restaurant community by purchasing gift cards for their friends. Follow along on Twitter by clicking here.

Next Steps

We will be providing regular updates over the next several weeks as new developments are made available. If you have any questions whatsoever, please do not hesitate to reach out. We are here to help you with your tax and business advisory needs.

In the meantime, you can refer to the following state agencies and associations for the latest information:

COVID-19 Business Resources

Disclaimer:  The contents of this resource are for general informational purposes only.  While every effort has been made to ensure its accuracy, the information is provided “as is” and no representations are made that the content is error-free.  We have no obligation to update any content, comments or other information for retroactive or prospective interpretations or guidance provided by regulators, financial institutions or others.  The information is not intended to constitute legal advice or replace the advice of a qualified professional.  There are areas of the CARES Act where additional clarification from the Treasury Department and the SBA is needed.  Your judgment and interpretation of the act may be needed.  Users should consult with their legal counsel and representatives of the lending institution regarding the proper completion of their application and supporting documentation.

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