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Providence, RI -Governor Gina Raimondo and the board of the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation today celebrated the state’s Small Business Assistance Program hitting another milestone, awarding its 70th loan. Since the program was announced in November 2016, the state-backed loan fund has collectively awarded more than $10.1 million in loans.

“When small businesses succeed, Rhode Island succeeds,” said Governor Gina Raimondo in a news release today. “Small businesses are the key ingredient to our economic comeback, creating thousands of jobs and driving down unemployment to its lowest in almost two decades. In just two years, this program has already helped 70 businesses grow and thrive. I look forward to continuing to build on its success.”

Loans provided through the Small Business Assistance Fund help small businesses having difficulty obtaining adequate credit from traditional lending organizations access much-needed capital. The program focuses on women-owned and minority-owned businesses as well as those in Rhode Island’s underserved communities. 52 percent of the 70 loans are women- and minority-owned businesses, 23 are start-ups, and 2 are veteran-owned.

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 seven lenders are: Business Development Corporation, BDCRI, Community Investment Corporation, Center for Women and Enterprise, SEED Corporation, Social Enterprise Greenhouse, and the Rhode Island Black Business Association.

There is still additional funding available for small businesses. Interested parties should contact Doris Blanchard at the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation at (401) 278-9100.
Also today, the board of the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation approved incentives from the Qualified Jobs Incentive Act to help Collette, one of Pawtucket’s anchor employers, expand. The board approved $1.2 million in tax credits over the course of 10 years. Collette plans to create 75+ jobs, including information technology, business development, product design, professional services and client services positions. The company will only be eligible to receive the tax credits after positions have been filled and employees have started paying state income taxes.

“Collette is a company with options throughout the region, country, and world,” said Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor in the news release. “It is wonderful that, at this important moment in Pawtucket’s history, Collette has agreed to expand in the city that has proudly served as its home for decades. We are pleased that Collette is joining more than 25 other companies in drawing upon Governor Raimondo’s job investment program to grow and create jobs in Rhode Island.”

The Qualified Jobs Program is projected generate more than $82 million in state revenue net of incentives over the next decade.

The board today also approved a $50,000 Innovation Voucher for Bradford Soap of West Warwick. Bradford Soap is the world’s leading manufacturer of specialty bar soap and cleansing sponges. The funds will be used for the development of a bar soap format for a Benzoyl Peroxide product which to date has eluded many major health and beauty company products. The new product will be commercialized by Bradford’s major branded health and beauty aid marketing customers for the “over the counter” treatment of acne.

Finally, the board approved a Network Matching Grant in the amount of $62,000 to the Northeast Clean Energy Council Institute, a regional business association that has been working for over a decade to convene clean energy stakeholders dedicated to growing the region’s clean energy economy. The grant will be used to connect RI entrepreneurs and Rhode Island’s emerging wind sector with the NECEC regional network of mentors, investors, customers, corporate strategic partners, incubators utilities, and other experts. Funding from the RI Commerce Corporation will be combined with a grant of $50,000 from the Rhode Island Foundation and leveraged resources from NECEC.

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