things to do in newport, ri
Photo via Bowen's Wharf

Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo and the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation (RICC) have announced they are accepting applications for the Main Street Rhode Island Streetscape Improvement Fund, which supports projects that improve the state’s commercial districts.

The Main Street grants were created in the state fiscal year 2016 budget and make funding available for projects that improve streetscapes in commercial stretches, such as enhanced sidewalks, new street furniture, new wayfinding signage, upgraded building facades or improved street lighting. Projects can receive up to $300,000 in funding, and the state has again appropriated $1 million total for this program for the current fiscal year.

What’sUpNewp reached out to Joe Nicholson, City Manager for Newport, on March 17th to see if Newport planned on applying for one of these grants. At publishing time, he has not responded to our request for comment.

Applications for the next round of these grants are due April 12, 2017, and can be downloaded on the RICC’s website. Applicants must have matching funds of at least 30 percent of the total project cost, though matching funds can take multiple forms, including expenditure on direct construction costs or soft costs, real estate donated to the project, or federal or local grants.

“Businesses are taking a fresh look at our state because we’re investing in ourselves with programs like this,” Raimondo said. “Rhode Island’s economy can’t get back on track if we don’t support our Main Streets, the foundations of our communities and a key source of economic growth. Last year’s grants were in high demand, and I look forward to seeing how applicants this year are inspired to make our central business districts more vibrant, walkable, and welcoming.”

“The business districts in our cities and towns are home to the small businesses that are the lifeblood of our economy,” says Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor. “We aim to upgrade the sidewalks and facades that are the entryway to these businesses. This second round of grants will make it more attractive to do business in communities throughout the state, now and in the future.”

In the inaugural round of applications last year, the RICC received 18 applications seeking over $3.4 million in funding. In March 2016, it awarded a total of $999,400, just below the $1 million appropriated for the program, to seven projects in six communities: Bristol, Central Falls, East Greenwich, Pawtucket, Providence and Woonsocket.

These improvements have included signage directing traffic into downtown commercial districts, a public art installation to conceal overhead wires, sidewalk repair and street tree improvements to support accessibility and sustainability of infrastructure, and structural upgrades to bus stops and derelict storefronts. Lighting and landscaping have also been added in several communities.

Learn more about the Main Street Streetscape Improvement Fund.

A press release from the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation was used for this story.

Ryan Belmore is the Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here -

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at and 401-662-1653.