Originally appearing: https://www.ricentral.com/east_greenwich_pendulum/town-receives-portion-of-3m-state-grant/article_8fb9328c-12c6-11eb-83b7-4b1f8ad151b1.html
By: Andrew Thornebrooke
Posted: Thursday, October 8, 2020

 

EAST GREENWICH—The governor’s office announced this week the recipients of over $3 million in grant funding to support the state’s Take It Outside initiative. Among the awardees, which include towns and cities, chambers of commerce and other organizations, was East Greenwich, which will receive $75K to help encourage outdoor dining and retail, and to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“We were encouraged by applicants’ creativity in proposing so many clever and practical ways to help businesses overcome COVID- and climate-related challenges,” said state secretary of commerce Stefan Pryor. “As we enter the fall, it’s important that we help businesses extend the outdoor season and continue to reduce the rate of transmission.”

East Greenwich was one of 41 organizations to receive funds to help with the purchase of items such as chairs, tables, heat lamps and tents, as well as other costs associated with providing outdoor dining and markets in the late fall and early winter seasons.

The awardees were selected following a request for proposals that garnered 85 applications requesting a total of $5.7 million in grant funding. In addition to the grants awarded, select intermediary organizations were awarded funds with increased flexibility to meet the unique needs of the business communities, according to the governor’s office.

“We thank all of the organizations that applied and are finding ways to take it outside and keep commerce going,” Pryor said. “We want to help business associations and chambers extend the outdoor season and reduce the rate of transmission.”

The Take It Outside initiative is a statewide effort to encourage and increase outdoor activities for all Rhode Islanders and to reduce the transmission rate of COVID-19. While the initiative is primarily associated with outside dining, it includes most any directive aimed at improving outdoor commerce through the season such as making state-owned land available for fitness classes, hosting outdoor meetings, promoting recreational activities and equipping outdoor office spaces with WiFi.

The $3 million awarded by the state follows $1 million awarded last month from federal stimulus monies, which was also intended to assist businesses and organizations interested in participating in the state’s Take It Outside initiative.

Due to the high interest and creativity of the proposals, Governor Gina Raimondo announced that the total Take It Outside grant budget would be increased from $1 million to $5 million. Rhode Island Commerce is currently accepting applications for the second round of funding for the grant program, the deadline for which is Oct. 8.

“Through the work of these partner organizations, we will support small businesses as they move some of their operations and activities outdoors,” Pryor said. “In addition, we ask all Rhode Islanders to consider taking their meals, meetings, workouts, or work sessions outside.”

East Greenwich will be putting its funds to use by purchasing outdoor goods including barricades, igloos, lighting, heat lamps, personal protective equipment, signage and tents, and distributing them to the business community in an effort to expand their outdoor operations.

“With the recent $75K award from [Rhode Island Commerce], the Town is working with the Chamber of Commerce in how to address some of our short and long-term business needs before the colder weather hits in the coming weeks/months,” said a post on the town’s Facebook page regarding the award. “Our efforts will amount to just a beginning of what’s truly needed to make an impact in our business community, so your help is now more important than ever.”