FUNDING SMALL 
BUSINESS AND TRADEs

Funding Small Business and Trades
Rhode Island has thousands of men and women employed in the building and construction trades, from boilermakers to electric workers to masons to painters. Thousands more are employed in fishing and work around the state’s harbors. Many are union members and/or operate their own small business—together these workers and small businesses are driving innovation, growth, and economic development across the state.

Tradesmen and small business owners can reap significant benefits from converting to electric vehicles—all while providing benefits to their communities as well:
  • Better Performance: Vehicles used in this sector, such as light trucks, cargo vans, and medium-duty trucks, all have commercially available electric models whose performance exceeds that of conventional vehicles—e.g., stronger torque and towing capacity to support on the job needs. Major US automakers are investing billions to bring more models to market soon.
  • Cost Savings: Because electricity is cheaper than gasoline and diesel and electric engines need significantly less maintenance than combustion engines, small business owners start experiencing operational cost savings from day one.  Overall, analyses show that medium-duty vehicles can save operators thousands of dollars each year: in one assessment, the average operator is projected to save more than $40,000 in avoided fuel costs and nearly $12,000 in avoided maintenance costs over a 10-year vehicle life.
  • Convenience: These vehicles can be fueled conveniently overnight by simply plugging in, taking advantage of low electricity costs and making fueling as easy as parking the vehicle.
  • Better Communities: As this growing and critical workforce drives around providing essential services to Rhode Island communities, their vehicles will be completely clean—no tailpipe emissions of nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, or carbon dioxide—helping to create cleaner and healthier air across the State and demonstrating to their customers the value of these vehicles.
The Transportation & Climate Initiative Program can help enable this transition to electric vehicles by utilizing program funds to lower upfront vehicle costs and to leverage matches from federal programs to increase total available funding.
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The average medium-duty vehicle operator can save over $50,000 in fuel and maintenance over the life of a vehicle by going electric.

Trades & Small Business EV Voucher

Trades & Small Business EV Voucher
To help small business owners and small fleet operators defray the upfront cost of electric vehicle purchases, the state can establish a voucher program to lower the cost for businesses to electrify.
  • Additional funding opportunities can help these future electric vehicle owners find an electric option that works for them and coordinate with their electric utility to ease the transition to electric charging
  • A portion of the program could also be set aside for participants located in or part of disadvantaged communities
Funding could also be used to provide additional benefits to electric vehicle owners through a refund or discount on local tolls.

Potential Stakeholders

Trades Council logo
Local Union 51
IBEW logo
 the state can establish a voucher program to lower the cost for businesses to electrify.

Fishing Vessel Engine Repower
Rebate Program

Four tons of particulate matter can be saved by repowering the average 3 thousand horsepower marine vessel
This program will focus on local fisherman who own/operate fishing vessels in the Rhode Island area.  Many of the fishing vessels docked in Narragansett, Jamestown, Quonset and other coastal areas have old, unregulated diesel and gasoline engines that contribute to local air pollution, harming the workers on the boats and at these docks. Establishing a rebate program to replace aging marine propulsion and auxiliary engines on board these fishing vessels would improve the health of workers across Rhode Island ports. These funds could also be used as a state match for federal funding, ultimately allowing the state to access two additional dollars for every dollar provided through the TCI-P.

The program could offer funding on a rolling basis using rebate forms to qualify fishing vessels based on the amount of emissions reductions achievable.

Potential Stakeholders

Key stakeholders would include local governments, fish markets, Commercial Fisheries, Center of Rhode Island, RI Commercial Fisherman’s Association, RI Lobstermen’s Association, and the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association


  1. Act News
  2. Northeast Diesel.
  • Image credits: Point Judith Ferry Dock, Joe Mad.
Many of the fishing vessels docked in Narragansett, Jamestown, Quonset and other coastal areas have old, unregulated diesel and gasoline engines that contribute to local air pollution, harming the workers on the boats and at these docks