DAN YORKE – Save our small businesses now

DAN YORKE – Save our small businesses now

America’s small businesses are its backbone. Even more true here in Rhode Island, which has maintained a restaurant and retail culture that has at least put up a good fight against the homogenization of the country’s box store shopping and franchise dining landscape. Add in the thousands of other small businesses in multiple categories and we have a vibrant base that has battled a tough recession and swum against the current of a tax-and-spend environment.

Any minute now it could drown.

Remember, so many of these businesses had to shut down. The federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) kept those with employees whole for eight weeks while employee $600 bonus checks on top of normal unemployment benefits buoyed some sole proprietors. Some businesses got nothing.

Rhode Island could and should help itself further.

The federal CARES Act hurriedly passed in March sent $1.25 billion to Rhode Island. Section 5 of the act allows for states to use “expenditures related to provisions of grants to small businesses to reimburse the cost of business interruption by required closures.”

Meaning, your business was shut down. We will allow the state government to cover, at least in part, your loss.

But Gov. Gina Raimondo has held the money back. Her logic? We need to hold the money until we get a guarantee of another round of federal stimulus for broke state governments to fill budget gaps, which in our case, is mostly pre-COVID. She calls it fiscal discipline while she patronizes the business community with sympathetic speeches about how hard she knows this is for them.

Meanwhile, the same CARES Act says the following on the first page under necessary expenditures: “Funds may not be used to fill shortfalls to cover expenditures that would not otherwise qualify under the statute.”

Meaning, hey states, this is COVID money, not CYA money.

Missing in action, of course, is the General Assembly. It could call the governor on the carpet and demand a properly prescribed grant infusion. That requires them to reverse their course of leaving leadership authority exclusively to the governor for all things COVID. And right now, all things are COVID.

Interesting as well is our federal delegation. Busy searching for more federal money to bring home, they have been mostly silent on what amounts to a kind of governor law-breaking.

But alas, a Rhode Island small business coalition has grown organically from the first COVID days, in large part due to the work of Lieutenant Gov. Dan McKee. A small core group of benevolent communication businesses joined his early conference calls. Part informational, part advocacy, part group therapy, it grew. They tackled some key phasing issues. It grew some more. They built a website to stir economic activity for closed and struggling businesses. Now there are hundreds.

You can find their petition at www.RISmallBusiness.org/petition. More than 2,000 have electronically signed the document which calls for the governor to release 10 percent of the CARES Act money for grants to qualifying small businesses. The math works out to $125 million, still far short of other states such as, say, New Hampshire, which infused about $400 million for the same purpose.

Sign it.

Ironically, given her occasional finger waving, it will be your turn to tell her to “follow the rules.” She also needs to hear a new version of that classic Fram Oil commercial: “If you don’t pay them now, they won’t be around to pay us taxes later.”

Dan Yorke is the PM Drive Host on 99.7 FM/AM 630 WPRO, Dan Yorke State of Mind weeknights on MyRITV/Fox Providence and owns communications/crisis consulting firm DYCOMM LLC.


Rhode Island received 1.9 Billion in PPP loans. It went to 17,000 businesses preserving 108,000 jobs . Some are questionable. The parent company fo the Fox Lady got PPP, the PawSox did too. I would think Larry Luchino and partners could have covered the loan instead of our TAX dollars ...But the real problem come from trump administration's dispersal of the PPP. Churches got 7.7 Billion dollars. They do not pay ANY taxes. A Kushner Family Real Estate Project got money as did he Publishers of the " National Enquirer" trumps top Lawyer's Law Firn got 5-10 Million. House Reps both Rep and Dem got more than 48 Million. One had stopped give 15 Million back. There were many instances where Companies and Institutions ( Harvard U) were force to give MILLIONS back. According to the latest there is 100 Billion left to parse out. Gina is not perfect but she has handled C-19 much better than the trump team

Why do you think she has handled it well? RI is fifth in the nation in Covid deaths (which is a questionable definition itself, another story) per capita.

Always President Trumps fault for all the problems in the world, at least he didnt give BILLIONS in CASH to a country that supports terrorist, we could use that money now . How about all the people that worked thru this pandemic what do they get ? I would at least like a tax break .