Updated on December 1, 2021
BCBSRI has compiled a list of state and federal programs to help you and your employees navigate the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
U.S. Small Business Administration
The U.S. Small Business Administration is the main federal agency administering programs to assist businesses affected by COVID-19, including:
- The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which offers forgivable loans to help keep your workforce employed
- The Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, which offers low-interest loans to help businesses experiencing revenue loss
- Shuttered Venues Grants, which support eligible venues affected by COVID-19
- Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which supports eligible restaurants, bars, and other food service businesses
- SBA debt relief, under which the agency will make loan payments for some existing SBA borrowers
- On the SBA website, find details related to these COVID-19 relief options as well as additional resources for employers.
Rhode Island Commerce Corporation
The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation maintains a compilation of COVID-19 business resources, including both state and federal programs, and adds to it on a continuous basis. You can find details on:
- Two key SBA programs: the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program
- Non-SBA small business funding for employers, including the Providence Commercial Corridor Micro-business Loan Program, Microenterprise (MicroE) Stabilization Grant Program, and LISC Small Business Relief Grants
- Tech help for small business
- Supplies for small businesses
- Resources for restaurants and retail
- E-Commerce site for Rhode Island’s PPE suppliers
- Relief for tenants and employees
- COVID-19 frequently asked questions
- Small Business Development Fund Program (Loan) – Enhanced Capital Rhode Island
- On the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation website, you can find details about these COVID-19 business resources as well as additional support and development resources for employers.
Reopening Rhode Island
Find COVID-19 guidance related to education, child care, sport, and healthcare settings.
- Visit Reopening Rhode Island.
State Small Business Credit Initiative
The State Small Business Credit Initiative is an existing low-interest loan program and is enhanced with additional funding under the American Rescue Plan. A portion of the new funding is set aside for businesses with fewer than 10 employees and also for businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. Ask your bank/lender for more information.
Express Bridge Loans
These small business loans range from $5,000 to $15,000, for small businesses open at least a year and with good credit. These loans are fast-tracked with money available in two weeks. Businesses not meeting the criteria may be eligible for other loan programs.
- For more information, contact the Community Investment Corporation.
Short-time compensation and WorkShare
The Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021 extends funding for “short-time compensation” programs, where employers reduce employee hours instead of laying off workers, and the employees with reduced hours receive a prorated unemployment benefit. This provision would pay 100% of the costs they incur in providing this.
The Rhode Island WorkShare program allows employers to retain skilled workers by reducing the hours of a group of employees. Employees whose hours and wages are reduced would be eligible to receive a portion of their regular unemployment insurance benefits to compensate for the lost wages.
- Learn more about Workshare.
Federal tax assistance
The federal government enacted numerous changes under which taxes were delayed, tax credits were advanced, and write-offs were expedited.
- The IRS has been issuing guidance, with relevant information available on their Coronavirus Tax Relief page.
- Additional information can be found on the IRS' Coronavirus Tax Relief for Businesses and Tax-exempt Entities page.
Employer paid sick leave
On September 30, 2021, the primary program that provided tax credits for paid sick and family leave for COVID-19-related reasons ended. The mandate to provide that leave ended earlier, on December 31, 2020.
- For information on those obligations, and on general leave and assistance programs, the U.S. Department of Labor provides material on on their Essential Protections During the COVID-19 Pandemic page.
The major COVID-19-related programs boosting unemployment aid ended, per federal law, on September 4, 2021, including:
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance – Unemployment benefits for those who were not normally eligible for unemployment, such as independent contractors, small business owners, and people out of work due to COVID-19-related illness or quarantine
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation – An extension program for those who exhausted their 26 weeks of regular unemployment insurance benefits
- $300 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation – An additional $300 weekly boost that was automatically added to all unemployment benefits
While those bonus programs have ended, ongoing aid programs administered by the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training include unemployment insurance and temporary disability/caregiver insurance. The Department of Labor and Training also provides free resources to assist people in getting back to work, including training, job postings, and resources for veterans.
- Learn about unemployment insurance, temporary disability/caregiver insurance, and resources for people getting back to work on the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training website.
Flexible spending accounts (FSA)
All unused funds remaining in a health and/or daycare FSA ending in 2020 may be carried over to the plan ending in 2021, and similarly all unused funds remaining in a plan ending in 2021 may be carried over to the plan ending in 2022.
Outside of Rhode Island
In addition to the programs identified above, the following resources are available.
Resources for Massachusetts Employers and Residents
These resources provide an overview of certain state and federal assistance programs, available as of March 24, 2021, and is not intended as legal or tax advice. Please consult your tax, accounting, or legal advisor for more information.