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SMALL BUSINESS : Loan Program Makes Modernization Easier for Dry-Cleaners

March 26, 1993|Susan Christian | Times staff writer

A year ago, Thomas and Barbara Morris thought they had no choice but to shut down their Newport Beach dry-cleaning business. The cost of updating their machinery at Newport Cleaners to meet federal and state environmental standards seemed prohibitive.

Then the couple heard about a pilot program offered by the state through which small businesses can obtain low-interest loans to install pollution-control equipment. Last week, the Morrises qualified for a $50,000 loan to buy a new dry-cleaning machine that will drastically reduce chemical emissions.

"The machine we have now is 40 years old and cannot be brought up to modern-day standards," Barbara Morris said. "This new machine will cut our solvent usage in half."

The CLEAN program--California Loans for Environmental Assistance Now--provides seven-year loans at a 8.75% interest rate. CLEAN is sponsored by three state agencies: the treasurer's office, the Trade and Commerce Agency and the South Coast Air Quality Management District. The year-old program has granted about $1 million in loans to 15 California businesses.

"Its point is to help small businesses meet regulations without going out of business," said Jennifer Openshaw, a spokeswoman for the treasurer's office. "We understand that small businesses are in a tough position when it comes to complying with environmental requirements."

For information about the CLEAN loan program, call the Treasurer's office at (916) 653-2894.

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