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Loans Help Laid-off Workers Start Business
The city is moving to provide low-interest loans to laid-off workers in a bid to help them start their own businesses.

"We should provide an obstacle-free service, convenient and sincere, to the laid-off workers of the city," said Mayor Xia Deren.

An employment breakthrough is a key goal of the municipal government in this port city in Northeast China's Liaoning Province.

Middle-aged unemployed workers will be given higher priority to help them find jobs. The city government has promised to help all of them find jobs by the end of this year.

The loan project has been a key part of this goal.

By the end of June, more than 2,000 laid-off workers got bank loans which totaled 42 million yuan (US$5 million) and were guaranteed by the city's various financial departments, said Vice-Mayor Wang Chengmin.

Small businesses can not only help solve the owner's problem but also provide opportunities of employment for others.

At the same time, about 90,000 people found new jobs in the past six months, Wang said.

Still, most people hesitate setting up their own businesses and the employment situation is pressing, the vice-mayor said.

In an effort to encourage small business development, the municipal government has moved to set up a credit guarantee system and extend loan times.

Traditionally, an individual could get a loan of 20,000 yuan (US$2,400) to run their own business.

Wang said the amount is now two and a half times larger.

Franchise fair

People with good credit can get five times that much, he said.

In another development, an international chain and franchise promotion fair opened in the city. It focuses on small businesses such as fast food, laundry and cafes.

The organizers hope the franchise will provide a fast and efficient business opportunity to help residents start their own businesses.

So far there are more than 2,800 franchise shops of all kinds in the city, said Jiao Zhengjia, director of the Dalian Municipal Bureau of Commerce.

"Franchise shops are among the first choice for residents to start businesses in the city," the director said.

(China Daily July 26, 2004)

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