Free educational program offered to small businesses owners

The own­ers of es­tab­lished small busi­nesses who want those busi­nesses to grow can par­ti­cip­ate in an edu­ca­tion­al pro­gram that will put them on a path to ful­filling their en­tre­pren­eur­i­al vis­ions and help them with strategies to raise the cap­it­al they need.

For free.

Yep, there’s no charge for par­ti­cip­at­ing in the Gold­man Sachs-sponsored “10,000 Small Busi­nesses,” said Di­ana Lu, the pro­gram’s Phil­adelphia dir­ect­or of part­ner­ships and out­reach. The cost is in the com­mit­ment of time, Lu last week told mem­bers of the Great­er North­east Phil­adelphia Cham­ber of Com­merce.

So, if time really is money, then, yes, there is some ex­pense. The 11-week pro­gram re­quires 100 hours of classroom time and 16 hours a week ded­ic­ated to home­work, Lu told cham­ber mem­bers gathered for a March 13 break­fast meet­ing at Com­munity Col­lege of Phil­adelphia’s Town­send Road cam­pus.

The pro­gram’s “no walk in the park,” said Chris Hess, co­ordin­at­or of CCP’s Cen­ter for Small Busi­ness, Growth and Train­ing. “You have to be com­mit­ted.”

“You can’t miss a class,” Lu said.

The $500 mil­lion pro­gram, a pub­lic-private part­ner­ship, “will un­lock the growth and job-cre­ation po­ten­tial of 10,000 small busi­nesses across the United States through great­er ac­cess to busi­ness edu­ca­tion, fin­an­cial cap­it­al and busi­ness sup­port ser­vices,” May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter stated in a March 13 news re­lease. “The pro­gram is based on the no­tion that great­er ac­cess to this com­bin­a­tion of edu­ca­tion, cap­it­al and sup­port ser­vices best ad­dresses bar­ri­ers to growth for small busi­nesses.”

Lu likened 10,000 Small Busi­nesses to an ac­cel­er­ated MBA pro­gram. She said the pro­gram has been in­tro­duced in sev­er­al oth­er cit­ies. Phil­adelphia is the 12th, she said. The pro­gram al­ways part­ners with a loc­al com­munity col­lege. In Philly, that is Com­munity Col­lege of Phil­adelphia at its Cen­ter for Busi­ness and In­dustry at 18th and Cal­lowhill. So far, there are 2,000 gradu­ates na­tion­wide, with the tar­get be­ing 10,000.

Par­ti­cipants learn from busi­ness ex­perts who will guide them with cus­tom­ized plans to ex­pand their busi­nesses. They’ll also make valu­able busi­ness con­nec­tions. And, again, it’s all free.

Lu said 64 per­cent of par­ti­cipants have re­por­ted in­creas­ing their rev­en­ues, 45 per­cent have re­por­ted cre­at­ing net new jobs and 80 per­cent have worked or are work­ing to­geth­er with oth­er pro­gram par­ti­cipants. The pro­gram main­tains a 99-per­cent gradu­ation rate na­tion­wide. In Philly, it’s 100 per­cent, Lu said.

There have been three classes so far at CCP. Lu said the Septem­ber classes are form­ing now.

Oth­er than edu­cat­ing busi­ness own­ers, the pro­gram coaches par­ti­cipants in how to ar­range fin­ances.

Ap­plic­a­tions for the edu­ca­tion com­pon­ent of the pro­gram can be down­loaded at

Ap­plic­ants can call 267-299-5900.

“It will change your busi­ness and it will change your life,” said Var­so­via Fernan­dez, pres­id­ent and CEO of the Great­er Phil­adelphia His­pan­ic Cham­ber of Com­merce.

The pro­gram isn’t for start-ups or one-per­son op­er­a­tions, Lu said. Par­ti­cipants must be in busi­ness at least two years and have at least a couple of em­ploy­ees.

One key part of ex­pand­ing a busi­ness is get­ting the cap­it­al to do it, Lu said. The pro­gram will tip par­ti­cipants on how to pitch their plans to banks so they can se­cure the loans they need to grow. In Philly, the pro­gram is partnered with the Phil­adelphia In­dus­tri­al De­vel­op­ment Cor­por­a­tion. Call 215-496-8157 for in­form­a­tion. ••

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