PROVIDENCE – Governor Dan McKee said Tuesday that his administration plans to distribute $25 gift cards to between 50,000 and 100,000 Rhode Islanders in the coming weeks, part of an attempt to urge residents to shop local heading into the summer.
During a virtual event hosted by Globe Rhode Island, McKee said he’d like to see the gift cards used during the month of June, which includes Father’s Day, as well as many school graduation events.
McKee said the gift cards will be paid for using leftover federal stimulus funds. The goal is to stimulate the economy, which is in the beginning stages of rebounding from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tuesday’s panel discussion focused on how small businesses can help boost Rhode Island’s post-pandemic economy. Kristen Adamo, the president and chief executive of the Providence Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau, and business owner Jennifer Ortiz joined McKee in the discussion.
The gift card proposal is still being developed, so it’s unclear exactly who would qualify for the $25 and whether there will be restrictions on the kinds of businesses where the money could be spent.
McKee also said he wants small businesses to play a significant role in his Rhode Island 2030 project, which will ask residents, nonprofits, and other institutions to chart a path for the state heading into the next decade.
McKee, a Democrat who was reelected lieutenant governor in 2018 and promoted to the state’s top job earlier this year when Gina Raimondo became US commerce secretary, has said he’ll run for a full term next year.