From the February 1996 issue of Entrepreneur

CALIFORNIA

Recycling is big business in the Golden State. To encourage more manufacturers to create products from materials that would normally end up in landfills, California has created 40 Recycling Market Development Zones.

The zones operate like enterprise zones. Companies locating there can take advantage of incentives offered by utility companies and local governments. Manufacturing firms that create a value-added product from recyclable materials enjoy an extra advantage: They can apply for low-interest loans for equipment, property, refinancing debt or working capital. The loans can be for no more than 50 percent of the total cost of a project up to $1 million.

Both start-up and established firms can benefit from the zones, which have a 10-year life span. In addition to paper, aluminum, glass and plastic, the program is open to any product traditionally put into the state's waste stream.

For more information, call (916) 255-2319.

Kids Get A Taste Of Business

INDIANA

Small-business owners can help fifth-graders in Indianapolis get a hands-on look at how the economic system operates in this country, thanks to a new program called Exchange City.

Operated in conjunction with Junior Achievement of Central Indiana, the program involves students in six weeks of classroom work exploring economic principles and how businesses function.

At the end of the classroom program, pupils spend five hours in a mini-city, complete with a bank, city hall, radio station, newspaper, jewelry store, factory and other businesses all run by students who have successfully interviewed to obtain their positions. Business owners can volunteer to interview students applying for "jobs" in the mini-city.

During their Exchange City sojourn, the children learn how to budget paychecks, practice writing checks and obtain loans.

The city is open from October to May, and during this first year, organizers expect 3,500 youngsters will visit. By year three, the program expects up to 15,000 fifth-graders will take part annually. Business owners interested in participating in interviews; donating equipment, such as computers or printers; or holding fund-raising events can call Exchange City at (317) 634-3519.

Venture Capital For High-Growth Companies

OKLAHOMA

Entrepreneurs who are looking for more than $1 million in high-risk capital and live in or would consider relocating to Oklahoma should investigate the Oklahoma Investment Forum.

Each September, 30 high-growth companies meet with more than 100 venture capitalists, investment bankers and private investors for two days to present their products. Companies must have a three- to five-year financial track record.

To begin the process, contact the forum at (918) 585-1201 for guidelines on submitting a business plan. After plans are reviewed, entrepreneurs receive either an invitation to attend the forum or a detailed explanation of what improvements need to be made.

Business plans are accepted until July 1 of each year; there is a $250 review fee.

Women Help Women Become Entrepreneurs

NEW YORK CITY

Some of the most successful women in business, including clothing designers Diane Von Furstenburg and Donna Karan, as well as Gloria Steinem, have joined forces via a program called 100 Enterprising Women to create the Women's Venture Fund in New York City.

Aimed at helping low-income women in the Big Apple open businesses, the fund was created by donations from businesswomen. The Women's Venture Fund offers direct loans as well as a microloan program that incorporates technical training, mentoring and the lending circle concept.

The microloan program provides women up to $15,000 in financing. Once participants complete a business development course, they form lending circles of three to five individuals with the help of a mentor. Members establish loan guidelines and determine who gets the first round of funding.

Direct loans will be available once the Women's Venture Fund has operated for at least one year. Amounts of $15,000 and larger will be lent.

For more information about taking advantage of the program or donating to the nonprofit fund, call (212) 628-6702.

Contact Sources

California Integrated Waste Management Board, Office of Public Affairs, 8800 Cal Center Dr., Sacramento, CA 95826;

Exchange City, c/o Junior Achievement of Central Indiana, 1317 N. Pennsylvania St., Indianapolis, IN 46202-4453, (317) 634-3519;

Oklahoma Investment Forum, 616 S. Boston, Tulsa, OK 74119, (918) 585-1201;

Women's Venture Fund, 34 E. 70th St., New York, NY 10021, (212) 628-6702.