Storefront Improvement Program

The City of East Providence is offering funding to qualified businesses for improvements to their storefronts utilizing funds awarded to the City by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Small businesses were hit particularly hard by the pandemic and this program is a means of providing long-term benefits and improvement to small businesses and the corridors where the businesses are located. Storefront grants are being offered to business owners to improve or restore the original character of the business' building, increase its visibility and improve the business' foot traffic. 

This program is part of a larger strategy to reinvest in our business corridors and the neighborhoods which surround them. 

The goals of the program are to

  • Bring energy to the commercial corridors of our City; 
  • Improve foot traffic for the businesses in our City; 
  • Preserve and beautify our City's commercial corridors; 
  • Create a please walking environment by improving the visual aesthetics of commercial building in our City. 


Eligible business owners can receive a grant up to $40,000 for eligible storefront improvements. For grant requests over $10,000, applicants are required to provide a 25% match of the amount over $10,000. Grant amounts up to $10,000 do not require a match. The match may not be met using funds from other ARPA-funded programs.


A storefront is considered the front of the building; the part that faces the street. This includes the sides of the building readily viewed by motorists and pedestrians. This program also covers interior improvements to window displays. Note that this does not include the roof.


This program covers window repair or replacement, doors, awnings, painting, siding, window stickers, re-pointing of brick, exterior lighting, decorative architectural details such as cornices/parapet walls, sidewalk planters, window boxes, landscaping, and signage.

ELIGIBLE BUSINESSES Arts; Entertainment; Recreation; Accommodation; Food Services; Personal Care Services. Most businesses located in Qualified Census Tracts (see page 5) are eligible. If you are outside the Qualified Census Tracts, you qualify if you were a disproportionately impacted business in these industries, as defined by ARPA: Businesses outside of the Qualified Census Tracts and not in a disproportionately impacted industry might be eligible for funding through this program. Preference must be given to businesses located in low-to-moderate income areas first, per ARPA and the US Treasury.


1. Having no more than 100 employees,

2. Being locally, independently owned and operated


All storefront improvements must comply with City building and zoning standards. Most businesses located in Qualified Census Tracts (see page 5) are eligible for Storefront Improvement. Businesses not located in Qualified Census Tracts must be a considered a “disproportionately impacted” business. (See Eligible Businesses section on page 2) The business owner must be the applicant to the program. Commercial tenants wishing to participate must do so with the signed permission of the property owner. The owner/applicant must have no outstanding city taxes, fees, or other assessments due to the City. Chain franchises are not eligible for this program. The Planning Department reserves the right to make the final determination as to the design, appropriateness, and suitability of the improvements.


Signs and awnings; Exterior lighting; Painting and/or residing with wood, stone, brick, or other appropriate exterior siding material; Window replacement and window framing; Replacement or restoration of original architectural details; Removal of elements that cover architectural details; New storefront construction within an existing building; Interior improvements to enhance window displays (lighting, etc.); ADA-compliant entryways; Murals; Planters and window boxes; Landscaping; Removal of excess asphalt to create better drainage/ add rain gardens.


Projects that are underway or were begun prior to an agreement with the City; New construction; Internally lit signs; Roof repair; Removal of architecturally significant features; 3

CONSTRUCTION All construction work must be undertaken by contractors that are licensed and insured to do business in Rhode Island. The hiring of the contractor(s) will be the responsibility of the program participant. The city will not direct owners to particular contractors. The property/ business owner must secure at least two competitive bids and then select the lowest qualified bid. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the contractor undertakes the storefront improvements in accordance with the plans approved by the City. Failure to ensure compliance will result in termination from participation in the program. Some improvements can be done by the tenant or owner.


Eligible owners and tenants can receive a grant up to $40,000 for eligible storefront improvements. For grant requests over $10,000, applicants are required to provide a 25% match of the amount over $10,000. Grant amounts up to $10,000 do not require a match. The match may not be met using funds from other ARPA-funded programs. The applicant will receive payment in three installments: the first installment upon submission of an invoice from qualified contractors, a second payment of 25 % when the project is at half-completion, and the final 25 percent upon completion of all proposed improvements. The city will inspect the property before the first payment to ensure that the work has commenced and then authorize the release of the second and final installment upon city’s approval of work completed.


The City has the right to reject the Storefront Improvement Program application or terminate any agreement if a participant is found to be in violation of any conditions set forth in these guidelines and fails to begin construction within one year of an executed agreement with the City, or has started the project prior to an executed agreement with the City. 4 Projects that do not adhere to the agreed design and concept or violate the agreement in any way will be suspended from the program, funding will cease, and a lien may be placed on the property until funds are recovered.

Businesses located in these census tracts will have higher priority for funding, per ARPA and the U.S. Treasury: 103 104 106 102 105.01

EAST PROVIDENCE CENSUS TRACT - View an easier-to-read version of this map


  1. Applicant submits application with required materials including a plan/sketch/photos or in the instance of larger projects a detailed set of drawings demonstrating the proposed work.  
  2. Property is evaluated and assessed for feasibility and eligibility.  
  3. Applicant secures bids from at least two qualified contractors.  
  4. Plans and design are reviewed for approval.  
  5. Application, including designs and all bids are submitted to the Economic Development Commission for review.  
  6. If approved, City issues letter of conditional approval.  
  7. Applicant obtains all necessary permits.  
  8. Applicant enters into agreement with the city.  
  9. Initial payment (50% of the total) is made to applicant and work commences.  
  10. When project is at half-completion, an additional payment of 25% will be processed. Upon completion of project and approvals from any needed inspections, the final 25% is released to the applicant. 

Applications will be accepted until Dec. 31, 2024 or, until the designated funds are allocated, whichever comes first. 

The online application form is available below. You may also mail a paper copy of the application and supporting materials to: East Providence City Hall, Planning and Economic Development Department, 145 Taunton Ave. East Providence, RI 02914.