COVID-19 Economic Development

Bristol Announces Round One Award Recipients for the Take It Outside Program

BRISTOL, RI– Today, the Town of Bristol and Bristol Merchants Association (BMA) announced recipients of awards totaling more than $60,000 through the Take It Outside Program.

The 15 awardees will receive a variety of items such as heat lamps, tents, and lighting to encourage and increase outdoor commerce.

Recipients of this program include:

  • Judge Roy Bean Saloon
  • Statesman Tavern
  • Bar 31
  • Bristol House of Pizza
  • Pomodoro Pizzeria
  • Leo’s Ristorante
  • Green Eggs
  • Audubon Society
  • Casa Margaritas
  • Quito’s Restaurant
  • Rivers & Rhodes
  • DeWolf Tavern
  • Thames Waterside
  • The Wave
  • The Beach House

New applications will be considered on a first-come, first-serve basis. Due to the high demand for supplies, it is highly recommended that businesses submit an application as soon as possible. Applications should be submitted by email to

For the latest program and application information, please visit


COVID-19 Economic Development Press Releases

Bristol Announces ‘Take It Outside’ Application Process for Businesses

BRISTOL, RI-On Thursday, October 15th, 2020, The Town of Bristol and the Bristol Merchants Association announced an application process for businesses to request outdoor equipment including heating lamps, tents, and string lights.

The ‘Take It Outside‘ Initiative was created to encourage and increase outdoor commerce and reduce the transmission rate of COVID-19. Earlier this month, the Town of Bristol was awarded $75,000 in grant funds from the Rhode Island Commerce to support this program.

The Town of Bristol and BMA have established two rounds of applications. Due to limited supplies, the Town respectfully asks applicants limit their request to essential needs only.

The Round One application deadline is Tuesday, October 20th, 2020. Applications should be submitted by email to the Bristol Merchants Association at If the Town of Bristol has additional supplies, it will review applications submitted after the round one deadline on a first-come, first-serve basis.

To download the application, please visit

For additional questions related the Take It Outside initiative, please contact the Bristol Merchants Association at


Economic Development Press Releases

Bristol Launches 2020-2021 Home Repair Program

BRISTOL, RI–On Friday, October 9th, 2020, the Town of Bristol announced the 2020-2021 Home Repair Program.

Each year, the Town receives CDBG funding from the federal government to revitalize the local community and provide safe, suitable living environments for low and moderate-income residents. This funding can support various home improvement projects, including emergency roof replacements, window replacements, and code violation corrections.

“This program allows the Town to help individuals in need make necessary improvements to their local residence,” said Chris Vitale, Bristol’s Economic Development Coordinator, “We are pleased we can offer this program once again this year.”

All funding assistance is in the form of a forgivable property lien. Each year following the completion of a project, a percentage of the total repair costs are forgiven. CDBG grant funds can cover up to 100% of project costs. Payment becomes due upon the property’s sale or if the property’s resident no longer qualifies under HUD income limits.

Funding is limited and will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis to eligible households. Application information is available online through the Town of Bristol website or in-person by visiting the Bristol Town Hall at 10 Court Street, Bristol, RI 02809.

For more information, please contact Chris Vitale, Economic Development Coordinator, at 401-253-7000 ext. 129.


Economic Development Press Releases

Rogers Free Library Offers Free Zoom Webinars to Help Unemployed and Underemployed

Additional details are on the library website at

BRISTOL, RI-Rogers Free Library is launching a series called Job Strategies for Challenging Times to help community members who are experiencing unemployment, underemployment, or turbulence in their careers amid pandemic-related economic disruption. Regional experts will lead free webinars and workshops from November 2020 through March 2021. 

With the state’s unemployment rate ranking second worst in the nation, at 12.8% in August, this programming responds to the economic challenges rife in Rhode Island. 

Seeing a new community need, the Board of Trustees of Rogers Free Library conceived the programming, which was funded through community partnership grants by the Friends of the Rogers Free Library, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation. This series meets the library’s mission and supports lifelong learning and digital literacy.

Three regional experts in career advising will present 16 sessions via the Zoom platform. Up to 100 individuals can participate in the webinars, with 25 to 35 in smaller workshops. Registration is required by going to  and Bristol residents take priority.   

The 2020 portion of the schedule is:

Monday, November 2: 6 pm
Job Search Webinar
How to use search engines, keywords and time-saving techniques.
Presenter: Audra Lavoie

Tuesday, November 10: 6 pm
Building a Savvy LinkedIn Profile
How to use this social media platform to advance your search.
Presenter: Sabrina Woods

Wednesday, December 2: 5:30 pm                 
How to Design Your Next Career Move
Making small changes can get you closer to your vision of success.
Presenter: Mohammed Kante

Wednesday, December 9: 5:30 pm
Pivot Clinic
Let’s figure out your next career move.
Presenter: Mohamed Kante

Tuesday, December 15, 6 pm
Building Resilience to Manage Work and Job Search Stress

How to lower your stress, stay calm and move ahead.
Presenter: Sabrina Woods

The 2021 schedule will include:

  • Job Search Clinic and Club sessions 
  • Grow‌ ‌Your‌ ‌Connections:‌ ‌Networking‌ ‌and‌ ‌Informational‌ ‌Interviewing‌
  • LinkedIn for Career Building, Networking and Job Search 
  • ‌How to Spot an Opportunity and Innovate
  • How to Leverage Personal and Professional Platforms to Start a Side Hustle
  • Resilience‌ and‌ ‌Well-being‌‌ Drop-in Sessions‌ ‌

# # #

COVID-19 Economic Development Press Releases

Bristol Awarded $75,000 to Support Local Business Efforts to ‘Take It Outside’

Bristol, RI– On Thursday, October 1st, 2020, Governor Gina Raimondo and Commerce Rhode Island awarded the Town of Bristol $75,0000 through the State’s ‘Take It Outside‘ Initiative.

The ‘Take It Outside‘ Initiative was created to encourage and increase outdoor commerce and reduce the transmission rate of COVID-19. In May, Bristol was one of the first communities in Rhode Island to introduce temporary eat-out zones.

“The Town of Bristol is proud it can help local businesses continue to operate outdoors this fall,” said Town Administrator Steven Contente. “Thank you to Governor Raimondo and the Rhode Island Commerce team for their support.”

This funding will cover the cost of purchasing items such as outdoor heating lamps, fuel, tents, and lighting for Bristol’s small businesses.

In the coming weeks, the Town of Bristol will procure equipment and partner with the Bristol Merchants Association and East Bay Chamber of Commerce to finalize a distribution plan.

Additional information will be made available on the Town of Bristol website at and through social media.

For additional questions, please contact Chris Vitale, Economic Development Coordinator at


Administration Economic Development Press Releases

Bristol Awarded $623K Boating Infrastructure Grant for Expansion of Bristol Maritime Center, RIDEM

Administration COVID-19 Economic Development Press Releases

Bristol Announces Temporary Eat Out Zones, Extends Sidewalk Use Licenses


BRISTOL, RI – To promote safe public access to restaurants and local businesses, Bristol Town Administrator Steven Contente signed Executive Order 20-09, which authorizes the temporary expansion of outdoor dining spaces and extends expiring sidewalk use licenses through the duration of the State of Emergency.

Beginning Monday, May 18th, 2020, restaurants will be able to temporarily expand their outdoor service areas into sidewalks and adjacent public or private spaces. 

The Town will issue Temporary Outdoor Dining Expansion Permits to interested businesses anywhere in the Town and without application fees or permit fees. Permit applications will be available online beginning Thursday, May 14th, 2020, at 4:00 PM. 

Expansions must follow the executive orders issued by Governor Gina Raimondo as well as directives issued by the Rhode Island Department of Health, Department of Business Regulation, or any other state agency, including but not limited to the ’Phase I Guidelines for Restaurants,’ on

The full executive order is available online here.

For additional information on this program, please contact Chris Vitale, Bristol’s Economic Development Coordinator by emailing


Businesses that want to submit for a Temporary Outdoor Dining Expansion Permit can do so
through the Town’s online e-permitting platform.

Administration COVID-19 Economic Development Press Releases

Town Administrator Announces Local Business Relief Measures


Date: Friday, April 3rd, 2020 

Contact: Chris Vitale, Economic Development Coordinator | (401) 253-7000 

BRISTOL, RI-On Friday, April 3, 2020, Bristol Town Administrator Steven Contente and Economic Development Coordinator Chris Vitale made several announcements related to local business support. Through Executive Order 20-05: 

  1. The Town of Bristol has established a COVID-19 Business Task Force to connect businesses with State and Federal resources available. 
  2. Local Property Tax Relief: Taxpayers can request a 90-day deferral of local real estate taxes due May 15, 2020. During this deferral period, late fees and interest charges will be waived. A taxpayer’s primary residence or properties associated with a small business, including vacation rentals are eligible for waivers. For more information, please contact the Bristol Tax Assessor’s Office at (401)-253-7000. 
  3. Business Licensing Fee Relief: The Town of Bristol will waive renewal fees for town-issued business licenses that are set to expire during the local State of Emergency.  
  4. Suspending Plastic Bag Ordinance: To protect the health and safety of essential business employees and shoppers, the Town is temporarily suspending Part IV, Chapter 24, Article V of the Bristol Town Code for the duration of the local State of Emergency. This will allow operational flexibility for businesses and reduce handling of customer’s reusable bags by workers during the public health crisis. 
  5. Town-Owned Business Incubator Relief: Rent collection for Town-owned incubator spaces are suspended until June 1st, 2020. Rent due for April and May will be deferred but not waived. Any rent which has been deferred must be repaid in full by October 1, 2020. 

“Throughout this crisis, most local businesses have seen a decrease or halt in revenue. It’s my hope that today’s emergency measures help reduce some anxiety,” said Town Administrator Steven Contente. “The Town will continue to advocate for businesses that are applying for State and Federal assistance and help in anyway that it can.” 

These policies take effect immediately and remain in full force through the duration of the local State of Emergency. 

Beginning Monday, April 6, 2020, the Town of Bristol will be adding additional resources/services on its website including:  

  • Business Impact Survey: The Town of Bristol will be collecting information from its businesses, non-profits, and art groups to determine the effects of COVID-19 to date. Bristol’s Business Impact Survey will assist municipal staff and community partners in their economic recovery efforts. 
  • Virtual Consultations: Bristol’s Economic Development Coordinator will be available for consultations through the Zoom video conference platform. The Town can help connect businesses with available State and Federal resources.  
  • Public Event Planning: If your community event has or will been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, the Town of Bristol will assist with rescheduling to later this year. 
  • Program Overviews and Guides: The Town of Bristol will provide information on available State and Federal business assistance programs. 

For the latest local information, please visit Bristol’s COVID-19 fact page here.


Economic Development Press Releases

Black Ships Return To Bristol In 2019

October 4, 2018

BRISTOL, RI-Today, the Town of Bristol and Japan-America Society of Rhode Island (JASRI) announced that the Black Ships Festival will be returning to Bristol in 2019.

“The Town of Bristol is pleased to help bring back the Black Ships Festival for a second year,” said Steven Contente, Bristol’s Town Administrator. “We look forward to working with the organization as the host community.”

The 2018 Black Ships Festival, which was hosted from July 13-July 15, included an Opening Ceremony, Martial Arts & Crafts Fair, Taiko Drum Concert and Gala. Over the course of the weekend, the festival had a combined crowd of 3,514 and local economic impact of over $100,000. Out of the attendees surveyed, 70.8% said the festival was the main reason for visiting downtown, Bristol.

“The Town of Bristol is excited to be supporting an event that boosts our local economy and brings visitors into our different storefronts,” said Chris Vitale, Bristol’s Economic Development Coordinator. “Our goal is to help make next year’s event even more successful.”

The three-day Black Ships celebration commemorates Commodore Matthew Perry, a Newport native who successfully negotiated the first trade treaty with Japan. Although the festival began in Newport, Dr. Patrick Conley, the General Counsel and Executive Board Member of JASRI, pushed for the move to Bristol because of the Perry family’s local heritage.

Dr. Conley, who also serves as Rhode Island’s Historian Laureate, noted, “Commodore Matthew Perry was the brother of Navy commander Raymond Perry, and the brother of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, the hero of the 1813 Battle of Lake Erie. Raymond Perry married Marianne DeWolf, youngest daughter of James DeWolf, who gave the couple a 36-acre estate on Hope Street along Silver Creek. The 1680 Bosworth house where the Perrys lived still stands. In addition to that property, a portion of which is occupied by Thomas Park, Raymond inherited Hog Island from his father-in-law in 1837. Matthew and Oliver visited Raymond’s Bristol home frequently and stayed there when the Perry brothers built a warship in Warren. Raymond’s grandson, Reverend James DeWolf Perry, was a long-time Episcopal bishop of Rhode Island and for nearly eight years the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in America. The Perry family owned the Bosworth- Perry House until 1957.”

The 36th Annual Black Ships Festival returns to Bristol starting Friday, August 9, 2019, at Independence Park. Additional information on the celebration will be announced at a later date.

Economic Development Press Releases

Bristol Receives Qualified Opportunity Zone Designation By U.S. Treasury


May 21, 2018

BRISTOL, RI-On May 21, 2018, the U.S. Treasury designated the Town of Bristol’s Census Tract 307 as a Qualified Opportunity Zone (QOZ). Created as part of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017, the Opportunity Zones Program is a new approach to encourage private-investment in low-income neighborhoods around the country.

These investments come in the form of U.S. Treasury Certified Opportunity Funds. Investors with capital gains tax liabilities will be able to make equity investments in businesses and real estate. Individuals do not need to live in a Qualified Opportunity Zone to invest in these funds.

“This gives Bristol another tool to attract new investment into town while also making a positive impact in the areas of our community that need it the most,” said Chris Vitale, Bristol’s Economic Development Coordinator, “We look forward to working with the State and Federal government on rolling out this program.” Census Tract 307 was one of 25 area in Rhode Island nominated by Governor Gina M. Raimondo for this program. Among the areas included in Census Tract 307 are Bristol’s Historic Downtown and Wood Street neighborhood.

The Opportunity Zones Program offers three tax benefits for investing in a qualified Opportunity Fund. This program will allow investors to defer paying capital gains taxes on funds invested in a Qualified Opportunity Fund, provide a gradual reduction of their original taxable capital gains, and provide a permanent exclusion from taxes on capital gains realized in the investment if it’s held for over 10 years.

In the coming weeks, the Town of Bristol will be providing additional program details and resources on its website. For questions regarding the Opportunity Zone Program, please contact Chris Vitale, Economic Development Coordinator at