Considered the engines of society, small businesses have a lot to roar about at LaGuardia Community College (LAGCC).
After an intensive search, 23 businesses – 10 from Queens – have been chosen as the initial participants of the collaborative effort between LAGCC and Goldman Sachs (GS) to help grow 10,000 small businesses across the country.
“[Goldman Sachs] asked around about what college could be their anchor college, to be the first community college to put together a program that would combine education and business services,” said Dr. Gail O. Mellow, president of LaGCC, “and they chose LaGuardia!”
The criteria used to select the businesses included whether the business had revenues between $150,000 and $4 million, had at least four full-time employees, had been in operation for at least two years and had potential and desire to grow and create jobs in the community.
These businesses will now attend 100 hours of workshops every Friday night and Saturday and learn procurement, advertising, management systems, regulations and finance, and accounting, among other things, from a curriculum designed by experts from GS, the Harvard Business School, the Wharton School of Business and LAGCC’s own Small Business Development Center.
One of the businesses chosen, a one-story print shop in Long Island City, hopes to do big things.
William Sanchez and his family have owned and operated the Technical Digital Services print shop since 1992. At first the 22 employee shop specialized in what their industry calls “black and white” copies – large orders for copies of blueprints or documents. However, in 2005 after Sanchez worked for two years at a “color” print shop in Orlando that had Walt Disney World as a client, he felt his mom-and-pop shop had a lot of potential.
“There comes a moment for mom-and-pop stores where they need to decide either to stay small or grow,” said the 35-year-old Sanchez, who now has Mt. Sinai Queens as a client and hopes to create banners and other large size print jobs for banks and government agencies. “In 2007 we decided to make [the shop] larger.”
A friend of Sanchez told him about the 10,000 Small Business Initiative and he decided to apply. Now he feels fortunate to be one of initial businesses in the pilot program.
“It’s made a difference to me as an individual business owner,” said Sanchez, who, after only three weekends, has learned how to network properly. He recently joined the local Chambers of Commerce. “As a small business owner sometimes you don’t have access to these things and being able to talk to other business owners is a goldmine.”