The harsh glare of negative publicity apparently isn’t going to keep Goldman Sachs from going through with a $500 million plan to aid America’s small businesses. Announced last November, Goldman’s “10,000 Small Business Initiative” will invest $200 million in education and $300 million in developmental funding for qualifying firms. On Monday, according to a reporter for Aol Small Business, an unnamed Goldman executive confirmed that the plan was still in progress and that first steps were under way. The New York Daily News reported last week that La Guardia Community College in Long Island City would be the first community college to spearhead the educational portion of the program. Goldman’s aim, say these and other published reports, is to spur the development of small businesses that are located predominantly in what it regards as “underserved markets.” The $200 million educational grant will enable selected schools to offer training in management and entrepreneurial skills to business owners who have been identified as candidates by the schools and by nonprofit partner organizations. Graduates of this training would then be referred for funding to a network of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) into which Goldman will inject $300 million in the form of loans or philanthropic support. In this way, Goldman hopes to increase the amount of growth capital available to small businesses in disadvantaged communities and to expand the ability of the CDFIs to provide technical assistance to small businesses most in need of it. Candidates for help from the 10,000 Small Business Initiative must be firms with $150,000 to $4 million in revenues. They must have more than four full-time employees and be operating on a business model that can scale to create more jobs. Other criteria are that the business has been in operation for at least two years and is located in an underserved area. Interviewed by Inc. magazine, the Goldman executive in charge of the initiative, Dina Powell, said that it would be run along the lines of 10,000 Women, a five-year plan by Goldman to provide 10,000 underserved women around the world with a business and management education. “That program has a 14 percent acceptance rate, and we think 10,000 Small Businesses will operate in a similar way,” Powell is quoted as saying. At La Guardia Community College, part of the City University of New York, participants will take classes in various business subjects under the mentorship of Goldman employees. Tuition and reading materials will be paid for by Goldman, according to the Daily News. “Small businesses are the engines of employment and growth in the U.S. economy,” declares Goldman in a fact sheet for the initiative. “The 2.2 million small businesses in the U.S. represent 45 percent of all employment and 65 percent of all new jobs during the past decade.” The program’s primary aim is to foster entrepreneurship in LMI (low- to moderate-income) communities where rates of business formation are low and access to good and services often is limited. “Entrepreneurial activity not only provides income to the entrepreneurs and perhaps others in the community, but it also provides needed goods and services,” the fact sheet goes on to say. “The entrepreneurs themselves do not need to be LMI people for the community to profit from this double dividend, however. Benefits also arise from the location of entrepreneurial enterprises developed and operated by HI (high income) people, but located in LMI communities.” Inquiries can be e-mailed to [email protected]