By Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech
LaGuardia Community College debuted its new 10,000 Small Businesses Education Center with a Dec. 4 ribbon cutting ceremony in Long Island City.
The 10,000-square-foot center is filled with large, glass conference rooms for trainings and events for students and alumni of Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses program.
During Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s first round of NY CUNY 2020 awards in 2014, he gave $5 million to the college for the sole purpose of building the center. NY CUNY 2020 is a state initiative designed to connect 20 CUNY campuses with local economic development and entrepreneurship.
“It’s a fast-paced MBA,” said Gary Riger of 10,000 Small Businesses program. “I come from an immigrant family, where my family actually made some mistakes in business,” said Riger, whose family came to the U.S with him in 1992.
According to Riger, his parents could have benefitted from some of the business advice given during the program. His family did well for themselves during his childhood as they owned an eyeglass shop, a Mrs. Field’s Cookies store and a Hershey’s Ice Cream stand, but “then 2008 came and things went south. But had they had a plan in place they would have been able to mitigate those risks,” said Riger.
According to the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses website, the no-cost program consists of 100 of class time spread out over about five months. According to Riger, the program helps business owners learn to how to “prepare for the worse.”
The program, which launched in 2009, is designed to help small businesses increase their bottom line by educating owners on marketing, firing, hiring, contract negotiations, systems management, team building and creating an exit strategy.
“It takes real vision to understand how to build something,” said Gail O. Mellow, president of LaGuardia Community College. “And to have the vision to say let me build something that really relates to small businesses, let me build something that builds community and let me build something that will create a human infrastructure, that allows us to move forward in a way that I think, frankly, is so American.”
According to the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses website, more than 7,600 business owners from across all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico have graduated from the program. Out the 6,600 businesses in Long Island City, seven are run by graduates of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.
Graduates include Gianna Teoli of Manducatis Rustica, Mark Albrecht of Albrecht Holdings, Tony Yang of Gig Computers, Michael Riotto of MRD, Kathrine Gregory of The Entrepreneur Space, Roy Castro of DM IceCream Corp and Nadira El Khang of NadiraBag.