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Rhode Island business news: March 2022

The "Superman Building," center, stands in downtown Providence, R.I., on March 27, 2013.Steven Senne/Associated Press

April 4, 2022

Rhode Island Suburban Newspapers purchases two Conn.-based publications

The Chronicle in Willimantic and The New Britain Herald/Bristol Press are now owned by Rhode Island Suburban Newspapers. The small newspaper chain, which recently acquired the Block Island Times, purchased the two publications from Central Connecticut Communications Monday for an undisclosed amount.

Rhode Island Suburban Newspapers was founded in 2007 and operates The Westerly Sun, The Call of Woonsocket, The Kent County Daily Times, Independent and Southern Rhode Island Newspapers, and The Times of Pawtucket.

R.I. receives $15m to make homes more energy efficient

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Low-income and older Rhode Island residents are getting nearly $15 million in federal funding to help them save money by making their homes more energy efficient.

The Rhode Island Department of Human Services will use the funding to partner with community action agencies throughout the state to provide weatherization services to eligible households, according to a statement this week from U.S. Sen. Jack Reed.

Weatherization assistance includes air sealing, attic and wall insulation, heating system upgrades, energy audits, and window and roof repair and replacement.

The program also helps with installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

“Keeping your house warm in the winter isn’t easy or cheap in Rhode Island — especially with rising fuel prices,” Reed said in a statement. “That’s why these federal funds are so important.”

The program also creates jobs for energy experts and contractors, he said.

Every dollar invested by the Weatherization Assistance Program generates $4.50 in combined energy savings and non-energy benefits such as job creation, according to the U.S Department of Energy.

401Gives Day raises nearly $3.12 million

Rhode Islanders raised more than $3.1 million for 507 different organizations for the 401Gives Day, an annual push to donate to various nonprofits on April 1. The fundraising kicked off at 6 a.m. on April 1, and 401Gives saw sizable growth in every category in its third year. Since its debut, 401Gives, which is powered by the United Way of Rhode Island, has now raised more than $6.6 million for Rhode Island nonprofits.

This year’s top fundraiser was Foster Forward, garnering more than $209,500. Lisa Guillette, the executive director of Foster Forward, said she’s planning to use the funds to purchase another multi-unit home for young people aging out of foster care.

March 31, 2022

Amica CEO to retire at the end of 2022

Robert A. “Bob” DiMuccio, the chairman, president, and CEO of Amica Mutual Insurance plans to retire at the end of 2022, following more than three decades at the company.

DiMuccio, who has served as Amica’s CEO for the last 17 years, took office in 2005, right as the country was heading toward the Great Recession.

“Together, we’ve accomplished a lot and navigated some very challenging times – most recently, the impact of the pandemic on our employees and our customers, both of whom were at the forefront of our concern,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

DiMuccio also serves on the Board of Governors of the American Property Casualty Insurers Association. He formerly served as board chair of the Rhode Island Island Public Expenditure Council. Other boards he serves or has served on include the Property & Liability Resource Bureau, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, the Washington Trust Company and Crossroads Rhode Island.

“I’m often asked what I’m most proud of,” said DiMuccio, who was hired in 1991 as the vice president of accounting. “It’s the combined effort of so many people involved in putting the customer first, ensuring that we have the most up-to-date technology to serve them, increasing our brand awareness across the country, giving back to the community through our charitable foundation, and taking care of our employees with benefits that truly make a difference for them and their families. These are just a few of the things that come to mind, but I have to emphasize that these are not my accomplishments. The good people I’ve had the fortune to work with made this happen.”

March 30, 2022

R.I. fines UnitedHealthcare $100,000 over rehab, detox coverage decisions

Rhode Island’s health insurance regulator fined UnitedHealthcare $100,000 over allegations that it didn’t follow state law when it made coverage decisions for treatments like drug rehabilitation and detox. — BRIAN AMARAL

March 28, 2022

ONE Neighborhood Builders announced two new affordable housing developments on Monday, which included their rehabilitation of formerly dilapidated dwellings on Delaine Street and on Bowdoin Street.

The two developments are part of ONE Neighborhood Builders’ expansion efforts to build new affordable housing by rehabilitating blighted properties. These two new developments will bring 17 affordable apartments for low-income families to the Olneyville neighborhood of Providence.

“These types of projects have the potential to transform both neighborhoods and lives, particularly considering the critical need for additional housing supply in our state,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat.

For Bowdoin Street Rowhouse, a multi-family development that sat vacant after a fatal fire in January 2018 destroyed three homes and displaced two dozen people, ONE Neighborhood Builders raised more than $2.2 million from the city and the state to complete construction. ONE Neighborhood, a nonprofit community development corporation, purchased the property for $65,000 after the city acquired it through a tax sale foreclosure. The six two-bedroom apartments each have 950 square feet of living space and rents will start at $975. The two one-bedroom apartments each have 550 square feet of living space with rents starting at $800.

The Delaine Street Apartments is a rehabilitation of three formerly vacant and blighted buildings on a single lot where homes were boarded up. The development now features a mix of one-bedroom, two-bedroom, three-bedroom, and four-bedroom apartments. Six of the apartments are reserved for households earning up to 60 percent of area media income and three of the apartments are for households earning up to 30 percent of the area median income.

March 25, 2022

Rhode Island tallied the third lowest unemployment rate in the region in February, at 3.9 percent, which is also slightly above the national unemployment rate of 3.8 percent that same month, according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The number of unemployed Rhode Island residents, who are also actively seeking employment, was 22,300 in February, which is a decline of 1,700 residents from January. The number of unemployed Rhode Islanders decreased by 12,400 over the last year.

March 23, 2022

Paolino Properties LP, owned and operated by former Providence mayor Joseph Paolino, is seeking tax credits under the Rebuild Rhode Island program in order to offset costs as it renovates the vacant Studley Building at 86 Weybosset St.

The property, which stands six-stories high and has been vacant since 2010, will become apartments as part of a $17.9 million renovation. About 20 percent of the 65 residential units will be affordable housing and the rest will be market rate.

Rhode Island Commerce Corporation’s Investment Committee voted on Wednesday to recommend the approval of $390,000 in tax credits for the building. The request will go before the full Commerce Corporation during a meeting on March 28.

But the company said it originally asked for $700,000 to $800,000 in tax credits, according to the Providence Business News. The property was acquired by Paolino’s family in the 1950s and was once home to several law firms, including Jack Cicilline, who was U.S. Rep. David Cicilline’s father.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Lifespan renew strategic alliance agreement

The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Lifespan Cancer Institute announced Wednesday they agreed to renew their strategic alliance. The two organizations signed their initial agreement in 2017.

The renewed agreement will support the expansion of clinical trials, access for Lifespan physicians to cancer-specific disease expertise for complex cases, and the “continuation of a highly successful program coordinating the treatment of cell therapy and transplant patients.”

“The renewal of the agreement ensures that Rhode Island residents continue to have access to high quality cancer care and clinical trials from Dana-Farber,” said Dr. Craig Bunnell, the chief medical officer at Dana-Farber. “Our continuing relationships with the Lifespan Cancer Institute physicians enhances patient care and care coordination.”

According to the news release, cellular therapies and transplants are provided in Boston at Dana-Farber and the care surrounding these procedures is provided in Providence at Lifespan’s Cancer Institute.

“Renewing our close working relationship with Dana-Farber will allow the Lifespan Cancer Institute to continue to elevate cancer care in Rhode Island and provide even more treatment options, all in a carefully coordinated manner that prioritizes the needs of patients and their families,” said Dr. David Wazer, director of the Lifespan Cancer Institute.

March 22, 2022

Middle- and low-income homeownership rates fell in Rhode Island

Middle-income homeowners in Rhode Island comprised 69.4 percent of the market in 2020 compared to 78.9 percent in 2010, which is the largest dip in homeownership among all income brackets, according to a new study by the National Association of Realtors.

From that same time period, from 2010 to 2020, the number of high-income homeowners doubled, rising from 17.1 percent of all homeowners in 2010 to 31.7 percent in 2020.

March 21, 2022

Pawtucket Credit Union rebrands as ‘Coastal1′

Pawtucket Credit Union is rebranding itself, and will soon be known as Coastal 1 Credit Union. In a letter sent to members this week, the credit union said it planned on changing its name and logo on May 18 to reflect its expansion into Massachusetts and elsewhere in Rhode Island.

The credit union has 17 branches in Rhode Island and $3 billion in assets.

March 18, 2022

Airbnb remits record $6m in 2021 tax revenue to Rhode Island

Airbnb reportedly remitted a record $6 million in 2021 tax revenue to Rhode Island and $1.5 billion in federal taxes, a 70 percent and 87 percent increase from 2019, respectively.

The $6 million figure is the highest tax remitted to Rhode Island’s Division of Taxation by the online rental hosting platform.

Feast & Fettle will expand meal delivery service to Connecticut

Feast & Fettle, a fast-growing meal delivery service based in Providence, is expanding to Connecticut. The company, which was founded in 2016, will have delivery vans based in Greenwich, Darien and Stamford on March 24 and then has plans to expand to Fairfield, New Haven, Middlesex and Westchester (New York) counties later this year.

“We’ve carved out a niche, catering to so many folks today who won’t settle for meals prepared in volume or delivered frozen,” CEO Carlos Ventura said. “Our meals are premium, the menus are thoughtfully planned, and we simply will not compromise on ingredients.”

Ventura said the company plans on donating $1 from every order in Connecticut during the launch period to the Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County.

Della Grotta named executive director of RISE

Kaitlin Della Grotta was tapped to become the executive director of Rhode Islanders Sponsoring Education, a nonprofit.

March 15, 2022

Hasbro recognized as one of world’s most ethical companies for 11th year in a row

Hasbro, a global play and entertainment company, has been named one of the 2022 World’s Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere, a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices. This prestigious award recognizes companies for leadership in key ESG areas including business ethics and compliance, ethical sourcing and human rights, environmental sustainability, and social impact across global communities.

Hasbro has been recognized by Ethisphere for 11 consecutive years – and is one of only four honorees in the consumer products industry. In 2022, 136 honorees were recognized spanning 22 countries and 45 industries.

“As a global company with multi-generational brands that engage and delight consumers, we know we have a responsibility to act as a force for good,” said Chris Cocks, Chief Executive Officer at Hasbro. “This recognition from Ethisphere, for the 11th year running, underscores our continued commitment to operating with ethical, responsible and sustainable business practices, and we are honored to be included.” - Business Wire

March 14, 2022

R.I. gas prices rise to new record as oil cost drops

The average price of regular, unleaded gasoline has reached $4.35 per gallon, which is 18 cents more than last week and 3 cents more than the national average. AAA Northeast said Monday that the price has climbed 87 cents per gallon over the last month.

However, the price of oil has fallen below $110 compared to a staggering $123 per barrel shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, according to the agency.

“This war is roiling an already tight global oil market and making it hard to determine if we are near a peak for pump prices, or if they keep grinding higher,” Lloyd Albert, senior vice president of public and government affairs for AAA Northeast. “It all depends on the direction of oil prices.”

Rhode Island PrideFest set to return in 2022 after 2-year hiatus

Rhode Island PrideFest and the Illuminated Night Parade are returning this year after being canceled the last two years because of the coronavirus pandemic.

This year’s events are scheduled for June 18, Rhode Island Pride said in a statement this week.

“All of us are looking forward to gathering together in celebration of our diverse communities,” said Rodney Davis, president of Rhode Island Pride, which describes itself as the largest and most comprehensive LGBTQIA+ community nonprofit serving Rhode Island.

Rhode Island Pride said it expects the 2022 edition to include the programming that became a tradition before the pandemic, including vendor exhibitions and main-stage entertainment in the runup to the nighttime parade around downtown.

“We are committed to having our annual celebration with the utmost attention on our participants’ health and safety,” Rhode Island Pride said on its website.

The event traces its roots to a 1976 pride march that the city tried to block, but went on with about 75 participants after the courts intervened.

Registration to participate in the festival and parade opened on Friday. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

Secretary Gorbea urges R.I. businesses to improve cybersecurity measures in response to Russian-Ukraine war

Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea urged Rhode Island businesses to immediately assess their current cybersecurity measures and strengthen their digital protections in response to Russia invading Ukraine.

In the days since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, Gorbea said cybersecurity experts in the federal government and private sector have seen a “significant uptick” in the frequency of cybercrimes, including those involving identity theft and ransomware attacks.

“Last week, my office received unclassified briefings from U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials who cautioned us that Russian cyberattacks on U.S businesses are ‘imminent,’” said Gorbea on Monday. “I strongly encourage all Rhode Island businesses to review their existing cybersecurity plans and to make any necessary changes or improvements to ensure their information, data, and assets remain protected.”

“At this point, we should assume that any suspicious online activity that we encounter is a sophisticated cyberattack,” added Gorbea.

March 11, 2022

Andrew Campbell stepping down as Brown’s Graduate School dean

Andrew G. Campbell, the dean of the Graduate School of Brown University, will step down after six yers of leadership effective June 30. He will return to research and teaching as a professor of medical science, according to a university announcement.

“Andrew has been a stalwart partner and a steadfast proponent for Brown’s graduate students throughout his tenure,” Provost Richard M. Locke said in a letter to the Brown community Friday. “While I will miss his vision and presence on the senior leadership team, I am happy he is continuing his research and teaching at Brown.”

March 10, 2022

Rhode Island’s unemployment rate falls to 4.2 percent

CRANSTON, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island’s unemployment rate fell to 4.2 percent in January, but remains slightly higher than the national unemployment rate of 4 percent, the state Department of Labor and Training said Thursday.

The state’s January rate was down three-tenths of a percentage point from the December rate of 4.5 percent, and down from the January 2021 rate of 6.3 percent.

The number of Rhode Island residents classified as available for and actively seeking employment fell to 23,900 in January, down 1,800 from December, the agency said.

The state lost 1,300 jobs in January from the previous month, mostly in the accommodation and food services sector, due to declining payrolls reported by restaurants. The manufacturing sector also lost jobs.

On the plus side, the professional and technical services as well as the educational services and health care sectors added the most jobs.

The state has now recovered 81 percent of the roughly 108,000 jobs lost at the start of the pandemic in March and April of 2020, when many businesses were required to either shut down or limit their services, the agency said.

March 9, 2022

Paolino Properties purchases Howard Building for $6.55m

Paolino Properties announced it acquired The Westminster Square building at 10 Dorrance Street for $6.55 million on Wednesday. The building, historically known as the Howard Building on the corner of Kennedy Plaza and across from Providence City Hall, was built in 1957.

“As Mayor of Providence in the early ‘80s, I would look out my window at this building and imagine how impactful investment would be to this important location, at the front steps of downtown Providence,” said Joseph R. Paolino Jr., managing partner of Paolino Properties. “I’ve always believed in the spirit of a vibrant downtown, which is why over the past seven years I’ve invested over $200 million in the immediate area.”

Paolino Properties announced it acquired The Westminster Square building at 10 Dorrance Street for $6.55 million on Wednesday. The building, historically known as the Howard Building on the corner of Kennedy Plaza and across from Providence City Hall, was built in 1957.Paolino Properties

Paolino recently opened nearby Hotel Beatrice, which also sits along Kennedy Plaza.

The Westminster Square Building has been home to tenants such as the Office of the US Attorney, tech start-up Swipely, the Social Security Court, and many private law firms and financial firms. But in recent years, it has lost a number of tenants.

The twelve-story building had been in receivership from Robert Day, LLC at a public auction. It houses Allstate Insurance, Meridian Benefits Group, Regus co-working spaces, Higgins, Cavanagh & Cooney LLP law firm, and VP Fitness, among others.

“Over the past several decades, I’ve watched the fabric of downtown Providence, particularly the area around this building (where 7/11 is located), get torn apart, through a rise in homelessness, crime, and people experiencing mental health issues, unemployment, and addiction,” Paolino said.

Frontier Airlines adds new, nonstop routes between T.F. Green and Denver and Raleigh-Durham

Frontier Airlines announced Wednesday they will launch two new, non-stop service lines between Rhode Island T. F. Green International Airport in Warwick and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina and Denver. The new seasonal service is scheduled to begin on April 28.

Frontier now offers 8 non-stop routes from Rhode Island. Frontier’s other routes include Atlanta, Cancun, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Orlando and Tampa

Rhode Island Free Clinic names top leader

Forrest A. Daniels will replace Marie Ghazal as the CEO of Rhode Island Free Clinic this month. Ghazal is set to retire after 12 years with the clinic while Daniels was previously the CEO of the Eastern Shore Hospital Center in Maryland.

R.I. attorney general sues 2 car dealers, claiming unfair pricing practices

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha is suing two car dealerships for allegedly engaging in unfair consumer pricing practices. He claimed their tactics, which were directed at prospective car dealers, violated the state’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Neronha alleged that Johnston-based Grieco Honda offered an advertised price for a vehicle, but refused to honor the price. The dealer allegedly charged a previously undisclosed “addendum fee” for $5,000. Neronha called this practice “deceptive and unfair.”

The attorney general also alleged that Grieco Toyota in East Providence, which is a sister dealer of Grieco Honda, advertised that it was selling more than 100 vehicles at “wholesale prices” and that car dealers would pay auction prices. But state regulations prohibit auto dealers from using deceptive terms like “wholesale prices” in advertising.

The suits were filed in Providence County Superior Court. The attorney general is seeking to have the court stop the dealerships from conducting the advertising and issue civil penalties of up to $10,000 for each violation of the law.

March 7, 2022

R.I. gas prices jump 58 cents per gallon in one week

Rhode Island’s average gas price is up 58 cents from last week, going from $3.59 a gallon on Feb. 28 to $4.17 a gallon on Mondayaccording to AAA Northeast. This is the highest average price ever recorded by AAA in Rhode Island.

One month ago, the price of gas in Rhode Island was $3.43 per gallon. On March 7, 2021, it was $2.69 per gallon. Rhode Island’s average gas price is 11 cents higher than the national average.

“The extraordinary volatility in global oil markets stems from the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the question of whether the United States and NATO will impose sanctions on the Russian oil and gas industry. As that issue continues to be debated today, the market will see significant upward pressure on petroleum-related commodities,” said Lloyd Albert, Senior Vice President of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Northeast. “The 45-cent increase in gas prices here in the U.S. over the past 7 days amounts to the single largest increase since AAA has tracked domestic gas prices. The negative impact of these explosive prices on American consumers will only increase in the near term.”

March 3, 2022

R.I. Foundation awards nearly $1.4m to improve behavioral health

The Rhode Island Foundation announced Thursday that it has awarded $1.375 million in grants focused on improving behavioral health across the state.

The seven nonprofit organizations that received funding work alongside community partners to tackle the behavioral health challenges of underserved populations in Central Falls, Cranston, West Warwick, Woonsocket, Newport County and South County.

“These are extraordinarily stressful times for so many people in our state. Existing behavioral health challenges have been exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19,” said Neil D. Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “These grants focus on addressing disparities in access to behavioral health services and substance use treatment that are having a disproportionate impact on marginalized communities, including communities of color.”

Here is what each organization received:

  • The Center for Health and Justice Transformation and ONE Neighborhood Builders received $100,000. They will use these funds to develop new models for affordable apartments that include supportive services for people who have been incarcerated.
  • The Children and Youth Cabinet received $250,000 to provide behavioral health care and prevention programs specifically for Latino youth and their families. The CYC is working with the Central Falls School District.
  • Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds Washington County received $250,000 to hire youth organizers to work in four challenged communities in the region.
  • OneCranston Health Equity Zone received $250,000 to launch a family support center. The Comprehensive Community Action Program will facilitate the work.
  • The Strategic Prevention Partnership received $125,000 to support the ‘No Wrong Door’ system of care in Newport County.
  • The West Warwick Healthy Equity Zone received $125,000 to lead a broad, community-driven planning initiative to help build affordable housing. The work will be led by residents, Better Lives Rhode Island, Women’s Development Corporation, Thrive Behavioral Health, Help the Homeless Rhode Island, and Thundermist Health Center.
  • The Woonsocket Health Equity Zone received $250,000 to launch the “Child Friendly Woonsocket” initiative.

March 2, 2022

United Way receives $1m to create statewide nonprofit resource center

The United Way of Rhode Island announced Wednesday that it received a $1 million commitment from the Papitto Opportunity Connection to help the nonprofit develop a statewide Nonprofit Resource Center. The Center, according to the United Way, will be designed to be a “central, multi-faceted entity aimed at strengthening the state’s nonprofit sector as a whole.”

“This is transformational philanthropy that further validates both the need and the desire in our state to realize an organization that exists to broadly support our nonprofits,” said Cortney Nicolato, United Way’s president and CEO.

United Way announced plans to establish the center in late January and placed a call for applicants to serve on a design team that will help guide the center’s creation.

McKee announces direct grants for hospitality, tourism, events industries

Governor Dan McKee and Rhode island Commerce announced Wednesday an $8 million grant program to assist businesses and organizations in the event, tourism, and hospitality industries. The program is part of the governor’s “Rhode Island Rebounds” initiative.

Business owners will have to demonstrate that they lost at least 35 percent of the business’ revenue comparing 2021 to 2019. The program was designed using tax and industry data. Eligible restaurants and event professionals will receive a flat grant of $12,500, minus any Rhode Island Rebounds Small Business Grant funds they may have received.

Hotels, tour guides, travel agents, and arts and culture organizations will receive grants of up to a maximum of $250,000, which will be based on the size of the program.

“Rhode Island’s tourism, hospitality and arts and culture are a big reason why Rhode Island draws so many visitors from near and far,” said Lt. Governor Sabina Matos. “Unfortunately, these same businesses have experienced some of our local economy’s biggest losses due to the pandemic.”

The program is funded by Rhode Island’s $1.13 billion slice of the American Rescue Plan Act funds.

R.I. begins accepting applications for safe injection sites

The state health department began accepting applications for safe injection sites. Governor Dan McKee signed legislation that allowed for a two-year pilot program in early July 2021, which made Rhode Island the first state in the country to authorize “harm reduction centers.”

At these sites, Rhode Islanders struggling with addiction can safely consume pre-obtained controlled substances under the supervision of health care workers.

Some cities, such as Somerville, Mass.; New York, and Philadelphia have moved toward opening these sites.

March 1, 2022

Brown is nation’s top Fulbright-producing university

Brown University’s students and recent graduates earned more Fulbright scholarships than those from any other college or university in the U.S. during the 2021-22 academic year.

Twenty-nine Brown undergraduates, graduate students, and recent alumni were offered Fulbright awards this year, and 27 accepted them, according to newly released data by the U.S. State Department.

Brown earned the highest spot on the Fulbright list in 2016, 2017, and 2019. The university ranked No. 2 in 2019 and 2020.

Feb. 24, 2022

City of Providence will offer direct assistance with Rent Relief R.I. program to residents

Mayor Jorge O. Elorza joined Rhode Island Housing Thursday to announce a new partnership to support city residents in applying for rental and utility assistance funds through the agency’s federally-funded Rent Relief R.I. program.

Through the Rhode Island Housing grant, the city hired two staff members who specialize in the Rent Relief R.I. application process. They will be stationed at the Mayor’s Center for City Services and will coordinate efforts to promote the program as well as provide direct assistance to Providence constituents that call 3-1-1 or visit City Hall.

“COVID-19 has created financial hardships for many families in Providence, and that can lead to trouble paying rent or maintaining housing,” said Elorza. “We’re committed to reducing barriers to accessing the Rent Relief R.I. program, and my office is looking forward to providing direct support to those who need help submitting their application.”

Feb. 23, 2022

R.I. Commerce, URI looking for proposals to build life sciences innovation campus

Rhode Island Commerce and the University of Rhode Island issued a request for proposal, or RFP, for local and out-of-state developers to create Innovation Campuses to that would be dedicated to the state’s biotechnology and life sciences industries.

The RFP, which was posted Monday, said the state is looking to create a shared laboratory site that can advance biotech innovation and small-scale manufacturing, conduct early demonstrations, conduct translational research, and develop commercialization programming. The RFP is part of BioConnect’s New England’s application to the US EDA’s Build Back Regional Challenge, which was selected as a finalist. Their application focuses on the I-195 Innovation & Design District as one possibility.

House of Hope to distribute gas cards to Rhode Islanders living in their cars

The New England Convenience Store & Energy Markets Association donated 120 gas cards to House of Hope Community Development Corporation, which will distribute the cards to Rhode Islanders living in their cars to provide mobility and heat for the rest of the winter.

“Upon being made aware of this dire reality, it quickly became apparent NECSEMA was in a unique position to help,” said Jonathan Shaer, Executive Director of the New England Convenience Store & Energy Marketers Association. “Staying warm in winter is something many of us take for granted and this is one way to help those in need.”

Since March 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people living on the streets has increased by nearly 52 percent.

Alexa Gagosz can be reached at alexa.gagosz@globe.com. Follow her @alexagagosz and on Instagram @AlexaGagosz.