February 26, 2021

Economic Development Commission Letter


In times of economic uncertainty, the East Providence Economic Development Commission (EDC) has been more essential than ever to support a vital local economy.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the availability of credit for small businesses in East Providence has been critical, and the EDC has continued to meet this important need in the community. The EDC’s primary duty is administering a Commercial Loan Program (CLP), which has issued more than $3 million in loans to fuel small businesses’ growth. Loans are low interest up to $100,000 for commercial or industrial improvements of land or buildings, and purchase of capital equipment.

The CLP has proven to be an effective tool that helps attract high-quality businesses to East Providence. Over the years, hundreds of local jobs have been created as a result of the EDC low-cost financing programs. For instance, Colonial Mills recently added 100 jobs to a formerly abandoned industrial building in Rumford where they make and sell products worldwide. Borealis Coffee renovated a tanning salon into a vibrant café that serves as a centerpiece of Riverside Square through its hosting of community events such as its annual tree lighting. A long-time community favorite institution, Uncle Tony’s, expanded its family-style restaurant on Newport Avenue, replacing a car dealership.

In March, $150,000 in funds from the CLP were set aside to create the COVID-19 Small Business Assistance Program. The EDC quickly stepped up to administer a program to make available emergency loans with no payments for six months. These loans provided vital funding to a total of 14 East Providence businesses to support the businesses’ cash flow needs during the initial stages of the pandemic. This program has proven to be very successful as some of the initial recipients have already been able to fully repay their loans.

Supporting our local economy is vital to the city and goes beyond participating in an annual Small Business Saturday, as there are economic reasons to patronize small businesses in an era of next-day delivery online shopping. Independent, locally-owned businesses recirculate more money in the local economy compared to big-box chain stores. A study by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance found that every $100 spent at a local independent business results in $45 of secondary local spending, compared to $14 from a big-box chain. Amazon will be here after the pandemic; will your local business or restaurant?

For 30 years, the Commission’s prudence has ensured funds continue to be available to new and existing businesses. It’s important to note no City funding is allocated to this loan program. The EDC has carefully stewarded funds originally awarded to the City in the 1980s through U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Urban Development Action Grants (UDAG) and lends those same funds again to new businesses as they are paid back.

The Commission is proud to contribute to the local economy as a reliable source of funding during these unprecedented times of a global pandemic. This capital invests in businesses across industries and City wards, creates jobs, and fills a gap in financing for startups. If you are building or expanding your business you can learn more about EDC programs at www.eastprovidencebusiness.com or call (401) 435-7500.


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