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April 3 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 3
, here are the latest updates leaders in Rhode Island’s business community need to know.

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Insights  <  April 3 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 3
, 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 3, here are the latest updates leaders in Rhode Island’s business community need to know.

The Latest

Real-time updates: 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.

President Trump officially signed the $2 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill last week. Here’s the latest:

Known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the sweeping stimulus package includes billions of dollars in small business loans; grant programs for healthcare providers; emergency funding for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control; and significant funding to help specific industries like air travel and national security recover from this period of economic instability.

An important piece of the $2 trillion package is the Paycheck Protection Program, a provision of the CARES Act that offers businesses immediate access to liquidity through a new loan program tied to prior year payroll. Loans made under the Paycheck Protection Program are backed 100% by the federal government. All guidance from the U.S. Treasury is as of 4/03.

As you can imagine, there is a lot to unpack when it comes to this program. We strongly encourage our clients who are planning to utilize this resource to call us as soon as possible.

The latest on available relief from the Small Business Administration

A good portion of the stimulus funding activated by the CARES Act is being managed by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Here in Rhode Island, business leaders are working closely with elected officials, SBA representatives and other experts in an effort to streamline the process.

On Friday morning, April 3, United States Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, United States Congressman David Cicilline, and Mark Hayward with the SBA hosted a live “Virtual Town Hall” to provide an update on these programs. As of Friday morning, more than 1,000 SBA loans had already been processed in Rhode Island. These range from loans covered under the Paycheck Protection Program outlined above to Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL).

We are closely monitoring new guidance coming from the SBA and other authorities, and will post updates on our website as new developments are made available.

Rhode Island Division of Taxation postpones upcoming hearings, releases tax deadline guidance

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 this week, sending out an advisory to tax professionals on Friday, March 27.

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.

Plus, in news specific to the hospitality industry, the Division of Taxation began sending notices to hotels across the state, requesting that these businesses ensure their customers are aware of Rhode Island’s self-quarantine requirements as they apply to domestic travel. Catch up on that guidance by clicking here.

Speaking of the hospitality industry, here are a few additional resources:

Available Resources for Rhode Island Businesses

State unveils “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.

Additional Rhode Island 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.

Rhode Island Superior Court introduces Business Recovery Plan

The Rhode Island Superior Court worked with the Rhode Island Bar Association to create a Business Recovery Plan that will aim to provide protections for Rhode Island businesses so they can remain operating, access new working capital and pay debts during this crisis. You can review a press release with more information on this program by clicking here.

Rhode Island Manufacturers Association releases new resources

The Rhode Island Manufacturers Association had a busy week, releasing a detailed pledge to commit to “responsible” manufacturing during this crisis. Here’s the latest:

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 to $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.

Delta Dental of Rhode Island introduces emergency relief program

Some news for the dental community: Delta Dental of Rhode Island this week implemented an emergency interest-free Advanced Claims Payments Program for its participating dentists in Rhode Island. The program is designed to provide more than $4 million of financial relief to dentists impacted by the economic disruptions related to COVID-19.

In addition to the financial relief program, Delta Dental of Rhode Island also announced it would reimburse any local dentist who chooses to donate Protective Personal Equipment. Learn more 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 non-profit organizations on the front lines of the pandemic.

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