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TEMPE, Ariz. – More than 140 “mom-and-pop” type businesses here may qualify for a new loan program created to offer financial relief during the city’s light rail construction project. The Tempe Chamber of Commerce created the Asset Assistance Program, which allows businesses to tap into a $20,000 line of credit. Funding will be provided through $154 million Tempe Schools Credit Union, with the city agreeing to allocate $100,000 from its general fund to serve as a partial guarantee, the Phoenix Business Journal reported in a Jan. 27 article Light rail construction on Apache Boulevard here is expected to continue until 2008. So far, of the 370 businesses along the construction line, 143 may be eligible for the line of credit, said Dan Henderson, chamber economic development specialist. The main concerns have been property access, funding and directional signage, according to the chamber. Tempe city officials held an informational seminar on Jan. 25 and have sent flyers to affected businesses about the new program. Other cities affected by the area’s light rail construction have either launched or are considering offering relief programs for their small businesses. The city of Mesa has identified 98 businesses that may be impacted and may develop a program similar to Tempe’s, the publication reported. Phoenix does not currently offer a program tied to light rail construction but a city spokesperson said it is exploring options to assist impacted businesses.

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