Supporting Rhode Island Small Businesses Affected by COVID-19

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By Abbey Rocker

Many businesses worldwide are being affected financially by this ongoing pandemic. Business owners are encouraged to keep their employees, customers, and themselves healthy so this may result in working from home or closing completely. Restaurants who remain open must be take-out only which is not bringing the same revenue as fully being a functioning sit down business. Many small businesses have limited resources and are struggling financially. Having to lay-off employees and close doors due to financial burden is extremely difficult for business owners. COVID-19 is disrupting the norm for everyone and causing distress for small businesses.

Rhode Island Lt. Gov. Daniel Mckee recently announced the creation of RIsmallbusiness.org which is a website created to help small businesses in Rhode Island that are being affected by the Corona outbreak. As part of the “Gift it Forward” program, more than fifty local businesses in Rhode Island have joined this website in order for customers to have a way to help by purchasing gift cards through this site. People who want to show their support for their local businesses don’t just have to buy gift cards but may also send donations by check or credit card to contribute. This website is a way that small businesses can generate revenue in the meantime of being closed due to the spread of COVID-19.

This website was created by Warwick-based Oceanside Graphics RI. Oceanside Graphics RI volunteered to design, create, and run the website to ensure it stays up to date and efficent. Normally specializing in sign manufacturing, business branding, and screen printing this company knows how to successfully bring a community together. Community nomination, corporate giving, and business registration are features that were included when designing this simple and easy to use website.

Small businesses can simply add their information into the website so customers can easily find where to buy a gift card or donate in order to show their support. Community members may also nominate a local business to be added onto the gift card database, where “Gift it Forward” will contact the business to get their consent and information to be included. Larger companies can also show their support to small businesses by being connected to a local business in need through this website.

Along with Oceanside Graphics RI and Lt. Gov. Daniel Mckee, RIsmallbusiness.org is also partnered with The Rhode Show, Flight Squad, and WPRI. These partners support the website and help share the message behind it to the community.

Small businesses are in need of help. The community is being summoned to show their support to their local businesses in their neighborhood. Returning the favor to small businesses is suggested as they often sponsor town youth sports, fundraising events, and donate to local charities. “Gift it Forward” is encouraging consumers to purchase online gift cards for future use, order take-out from local restaurants, book future events at local businesses, purchase essential items from local stores, and to like and share local businesses on social media. Any help is appreciated to support small local businesses in Rhode Island’s neighborhoods.

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