Philly, Goldman Sachs partner to help small businesses grow

Philadelphia officials Wednesday morning will announce a new partnership with investment bank Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Philadelphia is the latest city where Goldman and its foundation are rolling out their “10,000 Small Businesses Initiative.”

It’s part lending, part networking, part business consulting, and part old-school small-business assistance.

“When we designed ‘10,000 Small Businesses,’ we wanted to make sure that we brought together the tools, all of the tools, and resources that small business owners in our country need,” said Dina Habib Powell, president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation.

Goldman Sachs, the bank, will make $15 million in loans available to small Philadelphia businesses – usually too small to do business with a big investment bank. Goldman Sachs, the bank’s charitable foundation, will pay for a class that teaches small business-owners’ about accounting and growth planning.

Alan Greenberger, Philadelphia deputy mayor for economic development, notes that many business owners start their companies based just on their particular skills, that is, he says, “I’m a great cook or I can run a particular kind of shop or offer particular kind of services.”

“The training that very few business owners have is actually how to run a business,” he says. “You tend to learn on the job.”

That comes with a higher risk of failure.

Philadelphia Community College will host the course aimed at avoiding that risk. College President Steve Curtis says the curriculum and program will enhance programs the college already offers.

“Part of it is going to be scale, that we can do things at a larger scale with small businesses,” Curtis said.

The city’s small businesses number almost 63,000.

Goldman Sachs’ “10,000 Small Businesses” program has an eventful history. It began in November of 2009. At the time, CNBC’s Squawk Box introduced Dina Powell this way:

“Goldman Sachs and Warren Buffett teaming up to work with small businesses. It’s a $500 million initiative introduced just hours after CEO Lloyd Blankfein apologized for his firm’s role in helping to create the financial crisis.”

Habib Powell says 80 percent of businesses that graduated from the program grew their revenue. Over half hired more people.

On the city side, Greenberger is looking forward to seeing the results in Philadelphia.

“People talk about small business all the time. People in business talk about it. People in government talk about it,” he said. “This is a real viable thing that is done on behalf of small business.”

The program starts taking applications Wednesday. To qualify, businesses should be at least 2 years old and do between $150,000 and $4 million in business annually.

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