The following is a press release from the Governor following a press conference at Jane Pickens this morning.

Commerce RI, Rhode Island Foundation, and BankNewport Form Partnership to Offer Bridge Loans to Affected Businesses; Information Session to be Held Tuesday

NEWPORT, RI – Governor Gina Raimondo today joined Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor, members of Rhode Island’s philanthropic and business community and the Newport County Chamber of Commerce to announce a $1.45 million-dollar emergency loan fund for businesses directly impacted by the recent events related to the gas shut off on Aquidneck Island.

The fund will offer emergency loans of up to $25,000 to eligible businesses with no payments and no interest for the first six months. Credible insurance claims and/or claims in accordance with National Grid’s business reimbursement policies for affected businesses will be required as collateral for these emergency loans. The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, through its Small Business Loan Fund, will commit up to $1 million in loans to the program, with another $200,000 committed by the Rhode Island Foundation and $250,000 by BankNewport.

“Any small business owner knows that a few days of lost revenue can make a big difference to your bottom line,” said Governor Gina Raimondo. “No one should have to worry about keeping the lights on or making payroll because of gas outages beyond their control. This fund will help provide relief for local businesses as National Grid continues working to bring back heat as quickly as possible.”

“This has been a tough week for the small businesses of Newport and Middletown,” said Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor. “Many businesses have been unable to open and, as a result, have struggled with lost revenue and increased anxiety. It’s critical that we offer assistance to businesses as they gear up to reopen and as they await the outcome of their insurance and utility claims. We are deeply grateful to the Rhode Island Foundation and BankNewport for their commitment to our small businesses at this important moment. And we thank the Newport County Chamber of Commerce for their partnership through each and every day of this emergency.”

The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation will join the Newport County Chamber of Commerce in hosting an information session for gas outage-affected businesses on Tuesday, January 29, from 10AM – 12PM at the Newport Marriott.

Applications for the fund will open Tuesday, January 29. There will be an expedited application and approval process for the emergency loans. Our goal is that, once a business has submitted a complete loan application, that application will be processed within two businesses days whenever possible.

“Small businesses are the foundation of all of our communities,” said Neil Steinberg, President & CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation. “Aquidneck Island’s entrepreneurs and business owners have shown remarkable resilience. We at the Rhode Island Foundation want to help them and their employees recover quickly.”

“BankNewport is happy to support the Newport Small Business Emergency Loan Fund and we appreciate the Governor’s and Rhode Island Commerce Corp.’s attention to this crisis,” said Leland Merrill, Chief Operating Officer of BankNewport. “BankNewport has been serving the needs of Newport businesses for 200 years and we are at their side as we all navigate through this difficult period.”

“The local business community and supply chain has been significantly impacted by this natural gas shut off and the broader economic impact to our region is still to be determined,” said Erin Donovan-Boyle, President of the Newport County Chamber of Commerce. “I commend the City, state and philanthropic organizations in pulling together during this crisis to assist in minimizing the damage and developing a tool for local businesses to get access to the capital and lines of credit they need to get back to full operational capacity.”

The fund is the result of the collective effort of the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation and its Small Business Loan Fund, the Rhode Island Foundation and Bank Newport. The Small Business Loan Fund of the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation will commit up to $1 million in loans to the fund, with another $250,000 committed by BankNewport and $200,000 by the Rhode Island Foundation.

Loan Relief Loan Fund Details

WHO QUALIFIES: Any business on Aquidneck Island that has been impacted by the recent gas incident is eligible to apply and may qualify for the funds. Credible insurance claims and/or claims in accordance with National Grid’s business reimbursement policies for affected businesses will be required as collateral for these emergency loans.

TERMS/RATES: this fund is being offered with no payments and no interest for the first 6 months. For businesses that extend beyond a 6-month period, a 4% rate will apply. Businesses can apply for up to $25,000 with no minimum.

EXPEDITED APPLICATION PROCESS: The fund is designed to enable expedited application and approval, with the goal of getting applications processed within two business days whenever possible.

HOW TO APPLY: Rhode Island Commerce Corporation staff will be onsite at the Newport Visitor’s Center beginning Tuesday to meet with businesses and process loans. Business can also call the Corporation’s Small Business Hotline at (401) 521-HELP.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: The Commerce Corporation’s seven existing small business lenders welcome applications to our non-emergency small business-friendly loan programs.

Please contact the Hotline (above) or visit Gurney’s today for a list of lenders and contact information. After today, the customer service operation will be located at the Newport Visitor’s Center.

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.