The City of Newport and the Town of Middletown have each been awarded $75,000 from the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation to help local restaurants “Take it Outside” this fall.

The two municipalities were among 41 awarded intermediary organizations that will use the funds to cover the cost of purchasing items such as chairs, tables, heat lamps and tents, as well as executing al fresco economic opportunities such as wintertime markets.

The grant, which was announced Thursday, Oct. 1st, is part of Commerce Rhode Island’s Take it Outside Initiative, a statewide effort designed to encourage and increase outdoor activities in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Other awardees ni Newport County included the Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce, which received $75,000 to buy tents to create an outdoor job fair and expand outdoor capacity for various programs, and Discover Newport received $60,000 to buy single-use mylar blankets for restaurant patrons.

Newport

The City plans to utilize the funds to procure items including portable heaters, tents, and personal protective equipment as a means to help local businesses weather the onset of colder temperatures.

“This is a significant award and with the weather getting colder, couldn’t come at a better time,” City Manager Joseph J. Nicholson, Jr. said in a statement. “Our goal is to work closely and quickly with our business community in order to put them in a position where they can succeed over the coming months even while contending with the incredible challenges presented by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.”

Throughout the pandemic, the City has sought to bolster its restaurant industry by providing a variety of enhanced service opportunities, including allowing for expanded outdoor dining, take-out, and pick-up options.

Businesses interested in applying for assistance through the City’s Take it Outside grant award are encouraged to contact the City Manager’s Office at (401) 845-5429, or via email at CityManager@CityofNewport.com or Patricia Reynolds, Director of Planning and Economic Development at (401) 845-5450, or PReynolds@CityofNewport.com.

Applicants will be responded to on a first come, first served basis and will be asked to provide hours of operation, the number of employees expected to be retained as a result of the program, and, if applicable, a revenue figures comparing this past August 2020 to that of August 2019.

Expert agencies such as the World Health Organization believe that the coronavirus may linger in the air in crowded indoor spaces, spreading from one person to the next. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, outdoor gatherings lower the risk of catching the coronavirus because wind disperses viral droplets and sunlight can kills some of the virus.

Additional information can be found on the City’s website www.CityofNewport.com/COVID19

Middletown

Part of a wider $285,000 award announced this morning from the state Commerce Corporation, town officials said they were thrilled with the news. The funding will go towards the purchase of tents, heaters, blankets and other gear to extend the outdoor business season well into the fall.

“We’re very excited with the news, which is going help our local businesses directly,” Town Administrator Shawn J. Brown said in a statement. “We’re working out the details now and we want to get this up and running as soon as possible following the generous assistance from the state.”

Since COVID-19 forced the shutdown of schools and businesses in March, local leaders have talked about ways the town can help as everything opens up more.

Every week, the latest COVID-19 news is also part of a town and school department head conversation online.

One idea that emerged out of those talks was the concept of helping restaurants and other businesses make their outdoor seasons longer, even as the chillier fall weather arrives. Speaking with area business people, the need for tents, heaters, blankets and other equipment was mentioned as being helpful. 

Ryan M. Belmore

Ryan M. Belmore is the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers. Send questions, tips, and story ideas to Ryan@whatsupnewp.com.