Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs, said supporting small businesses is the key to creating jobs and economic growth.
The head of Goldman Sachs spoke at Long Beach City College Monday as part of a discussion panel — which included Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster — to talk about small business growth in America and the success of the Goldman Sachs’s 10,000 Small Business program.
Available at Long Beach City College, the 10,000 Small Businesses program represents a $500 million investment to help small business owners in the United States get access to business education and support services. Business owners who apply to participate get entrepreneur training (including a personalized growth plan), advisory services, technical assistance and networking opportunities, among other services.
“Small businesses are the backbone of this country,” Blankfein said, adding that operating a small business can be as challenging as running his banking and securities firm of more than 30,000 employees.
“You (small business owners) have to take a big gulp when you make a decision… I think, ‘Gosh, could I do that?” he said. “I don’t do a bigger version of what they do. I do a different thing; they have challenges I don’t have.”
Goldman Sachs’s 10,000 Small Businesses is currently active in eight cities, including Long Beach. To date, 70% of the more than 900 business owners who have participated nationwide have increased their revenues. Additionally, 50% of participants have reported creating new jobs.
Mayor Foster talked about his experience operating a small carpet installation business and then his presidency at Southern California Edison before being elected to office. He said he is a big fan of the 10,000 Small Businesses program because he understands the importance of small businesses to the local and national economy.
“You make this community richer and better for your participation and success in this program,” he said to the business owners who completed the 10,000 Small Businesses program.
“Today … was a great opportunity for thoughtful discussion among leaders of local government, big business and our Long Beach community on how we can collectively support small business growth,” he added. “Goldman Sachs had many choices and Long Beach is fortunate to have been selected among those cities selected to host this initiative. This has been a tremendous opportunity to invest in and develop our local small business talent.”
Several small business owners in attendance at the event spoke about their experiences with 10,000 Small Businesses. Notably, Georgette Powell, owner of Mel’s Fish Shack in Los Angeles, said that she is a proud graduate.
“This experience has helped me realize my potential as a business owner,” she explained, adding that the business’s revenues have increased by 20% and she has been able to hire 50% more workers since participating in the program. Also, Mel’s Fish Shack could soon open a second location.
For details or to apply to participate in the 10,000 Small Businesses program, visit SoCal10KSB.com. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.