Rhode Island News Briefs is a regular feature of WhatsUpNewp, selecting interesting stories from around the state, gathered from various news organizations, and other sources from business, government, and non-profit organizations.


April 18, 2021


Fire displaces several in Providence


PROVIDENCE — A four-alarm fire at a 16-unit apartment complex on Chatham Street on Saturday afternoon displaced a dozen people, as the fire spread from a bedroom where it reportedly started to the remainder of the building. Four of the apartments in the building suffered fire, smoke, and water damage, while the remaining units suffered smoke and water damage. The Red Cross was assisting the displaced residents. The cause is under investigation.

SBA reports steady non-COVID lending


The Small Business Administration’s Rhode Island office has reported steady “year-over-year” lending for non-COVID related loans for the period ending April 10. According to the SBA, from Oct. 1, 2020 to April 10, 2021, the SBA made 106 loans in Rhode Island, 27 of which were to new businesses. For the same period the previous year, the SBA reported it made 120 loans, of which 31 were to new businesses. “These lending numbers show a promising future for the small business community here in Rhode Island,” said SBA District Director Mark S. Hayward. “Even during the peak of COVID-19, Rhode Islanders were still looking to open businesses, demonstrating the incredible entrepreneurial spirit we hold in this State. I also believe it shows that the SBA’s relief efforts have given the community the confidence to start these ventures knowing that we will thrive once again.”

SBA also reminds businesses PPP funding still available


The SBA said the Paycheck Protection Program has been extended to May 31, 2021. The extension furthers the opportunity for businesses that have yet to apply. In the most recent round of funding, the SBA approved 12,923 PPP loans for $903 million in Rhode Island through April 11, 2021. Nationally, the SBA has approved 4,412,201 loans for over $232 billion in that same time. Since its launch in 2020, the SBA has approved 9,555,366 PPP loans nationally, totaling more than $755 billion.

Michigan doctor to deliver URI commencement keynote


KINGSTON —Mona Hanna-Attisha, the Michigan doctor responsible for uncovering the Flint water crisis, will deliver the keynote address at this year’s University of Rhode Island commencement, according to URI. Hanna-Attisha will also receive an honorary doctorate degree in recognition for exposing the public health crisis that occurred when the city switched its water supply from the Detroit system to the Flint River. The switch, which was made in 2014, resulted in toxic lead contamination and coinciding outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease. “Dr. Hanna-Attisha has demonstrated the absolute need for courage when it comes to protecting the public’s health,” said URI President David M. Dooley. “Her ability to see the harm being done by a poisonous water system to the children she treats and a willingness to speak up led to national media attention and a reckoning for the officials who made such a callous and dangerous decision.”

Credit organizations reaffirm state’s strong standing


Rhode Island’s strong credit ratings have been reaffirmed by the major crediting agencies, according to a recent press release from General Treasurer Seth Magaziner. The General Treasurer said S&P and Fitch issued a rating of AA and Moody’s a rating of Aa2. The ratings were issued in advance of bond issuance scheduled in April for what Magaziner characterized as key economic and infrastructure projects recently approved by voters. “These ratings show that our quick action to stabilize the state’s finances during the COVID-19 pandemic and our commitment to strong financial management are paying off. A high credit rating is crucial to Rhode Island’s ability to continue to grow the economy.”

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly included information about Salve Regina University’s commencement address. We’ve removed that brief. We apologize for any confusion.

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Frank Prosnitz

Frank Prosnitz brings to WhatsUpNewp several years in journalism, including 10 as editor of the Providence (RI) Business News and 14 years as a reporter and bureau manager at the Providence (RI) Journal. Prosnitz began his journalism career as a sportswriter at the Asbury Park (NJ) Press, moving to The News Tribune (Woodbridge, NJ), before joining the Providence Journal. Prosnitz hosts the Morning Show on WLBQ radio (Westerly), 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday, and It’s Your Business, also on WBLQ, Monday and Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Prosnitz has twice won Best in Business Awards from the national Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW), twice was named Media Advocate of the Year by the Small Business Administration, won an investigative reporter’s award from the New England Press Association, and newswriting award from the Rhode Island Press Association.