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Hale Cleaners Owners Keep American Dream Alive with Support from OAQDA
Elyria (Lorain County)

The Kim family have owned and operated Hale Cleaners for more than 13 years in Elyria. They are proud to be a minority- and woman-owned business supporting the local community. After moving to the U.S. in the 70s to pursue the American dream, the Kims worked in various manufacturing jobs and even in shoe repair before moving to Cleveland and purchasing the dry-cleaning business.

“I have learned that not only are my parents impressive entrepreneurs who built their dream from nothing, they also have worked to give back to the local Korean community,” said Ki Kim, the Kims' son, “My dad is the former president of the Korean American Association of Greater Cleveland and is a proud veteran who fought alongside Americans during the Vietnam War. He has helped organize and been part of many veteran events especially for those who served in the Korean War. He has been inducted and recognized by the Cleveland International Hall of Fame for all his accomplishments.”

Hale Cleaners was deeply impacted by the pandemic, losing a good portion of their consumer dry-cleaning business. The Authority was able to support the small business by issuing $53,850 in bond financing and awarded a $10,770 grant to help Hale Cleaners with its air quality improvement project. The project replaced aging dry-cleaning equipment with a new high-capacity, green solvent machine, which eliminated the use of the dangerous chemical PERC. This upgrade allows Hale Cleaners to comply with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules and remain open.

“We now have green machinery, which is something we are proud to share with our customers,” said Kim. “It was important for us to reduce the pollutants we were putting into the air. We saw an opportunity to make a change and wanted to be part of the movement toward a healthier environment.”

The Kims are grateful that OAQDA reached out to them with information about the CARC program and appreciate the staff’s knowledge and commitment to ensure a smooth application process.

After the challenging year, Kim wants Ohio legislators and others to know that the American dream is still alive and well.

“There is opportunity in America for everyone who wants it,” he said. “For many immigrants, America provides the chance to raise your economic status. I believe this has not changed. It’s in the fundamentals of this country and will always be there. My parents are just one of many examples. If you work hard and persevere, you can succeed.”