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First Lady Hillary Clinton delivers loan

First Lady Hillary Clinton delivers loan

April 27, 1994: First Lady Hillary Clinton during a tour of Devon Industries in Chatsworth. Joining her, from left, are U.S. Reps. Howard L. Berman of Panorama City and Howard P.  “Buck” McKeon of Santa Clarita and Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan.

Heavily damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, Devon Industries faced closure unless the company received a Small Business Administration loan.

Staff writer Abigail Goldman reported in the April 28, 1994 Los Angeles Times:

After an unprecedented week in Washington of being grilled, poked, prodded and scrutinized more than an Arkansas chicken, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton came to Chatsworth Wednesday for a bit of relief — earthquake relief, that is.

Clinton presented Devon Industries Inc. with the first installment of a $9.1-million Small Business Administration loan, the largest disaster loan in U. S. history.

She gave a speech supporting the travails of San Fernando Valley residents and basked in the thanks of Mayor Richard Riordan, U. S. Reps. Howard P. (Buck) McKeon (R-Santa Clarita) and Howard Berman (D-Panorama City), Devon officials and the 398 employees whose jobs the loan will help preserve.

Before the grant to Devon, a medical supplies manufacturer, the SBA limited businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees to maximum loans of $1.5 million. But Devon, which suffered more than $10 million in damage from the Jan. 17 quake, lobbied the SBA, in cooperation with the Valley Industry and Commerce Assn., to offer bigger loans to smaller businesses.

As a result, SBA Administrator Erskine Bowles agreed to qualify businesses with 250 or more employees as “a major source of employment,” making them eligible for the larger loans.

“Without this SBA help, there is very little reason to believe that Devon could remain here, reopen, re-employ people and get back to business,” Clinton told the applauding dignitaries, who were seated on a parking lot that had been part of the main plant before it was damaged in the quake. “They would have had to perhaps move production to their plants elsewhere, which would have been a devastating loss to this area.”

And in fine ribbon-cutting tradition, Clinton, who was in town for former President Richard Nixon’s funeral, also toured the recovered parts of the Devon plant and briefly worked on an assembly line. …

Richard Derk’s photo accompanied Goldman’s story in the April 28, 1994 Los Angeles Times.

Goldman’s full story Special Delivery: First Lady Brings Devon Industries Part of $9 Million in Quake Aid, is online.

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