The first graduates of the Goldman Sachs “10,000 Small Businesses Initiative” celebrated their graduation along with the billionaire businessman Warren Buffett and other prominent figures.
The graduation was held at LaGuardia Community College on Wednesday, September 22. LaGuardia Community College was the first community college in the country selected for the $500 million; five-year program to help train underserved small businesses owners in the United States who have the potential to grow. The program is also operating in Los Angeles.
“It is important that these stories get out and the community sees their potential,” said Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, a conglomerate holding company. “They are winners and it is going to be fun to see them succeed.”
For the last 20 weeks, the 23 graduates from all over the city studied accounting, human resources, negotiation and marketing. The business owners also received one-on-one mentoring, accounting workshops and pro bono legal advice from Goldman Sachs professionals. They committed two full Saturdays a month for classes and at least eight hours to out-of-class activities including assignments and networking events.
“In American, hard work and opportunity leads to success,” said Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett. “I would challenge each of the participants in the program that it would be your turn to give back to your community.”
Others at the graduation included Lloyd Blankenfein, chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, a global investment banking and securities firm, Dr. Michael Porter of the Harvard Business School, and LaGuardia Community College President Gail Mellow. In the audience were Queens Congressmember Carolyn Maloney and City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.
A graduate in the inaugural class included William Sanchez, president of Technical Digital Services, a family-owned printing company based in Long Island City. Through the program, he was able to land a 15-year contract with a major educational institution.
“For the first time, I became a negotiator,” Sanchez said. “I feel like I have become the CEO of my company.”
The graduates will continue to get mentoring and access to networking opportunities. Some have elected to apply for capital through the 10,000 Small Businesses partnership with Seedco Financial, a national nonprofit organization that provides affordable financing. Their revenue and employment growth will also be tracked to measure the impact of the program.
The 10,000 Small Businesses program is looking for business owners whose businesses have revenues from $150,000 to $4 million, in operation for at least two years
and have at least four full-time employees. Interested applicants should apply before October 13. For more information visit: www.lagcc.cuny.edu/ACE/10000smallbusinesses.aspx
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