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Goldman Sachs partnering with NH community colleges to offer crash course in business

New Hampshire Union Leader

October 11. 2018 10:14PM
Ross Gittell, chancellor of the Community College System of New Hampshire. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT FILE PHOTO)

MANCHESTER — Goldman Sachs is partnering with the state’s community college system to offer small business owners a free, 10-week crash course on business.

“It’s a mini-MBA” program, Ross Gittell, chancellor of the Community College System of New Hampshire, said Thursday.

“What it will achieve is to strengthen the business ecosystem in the state,” said Gittell, who will attend the official announcement Friday at Stark Brewing Co. in Manchester.

This is part of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, a $500 million investment to strengthen small businesses across the country.

“The return on investment is these business owners create jobs in their communities,” said Katherine Colsher, a managing director at Goldman Sachs and the national director of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses initiative.

The plan is to select 30 business owners who will be part of the 10-week program that includes online and in-class learning that includes finance, marketing and negotiations.

“It’s really nuts and bolts, all the fundamentals of running a business,” Colsher said.

Participants will use their own businesses as case studies.

They will be “applying new theories and new things they learn about financing and human resources and about marketing to their own businesses,” Gittell said.

To date, 10,000 Small Businesses has served more than 7,600 small businesses across the country, reaching businesses in all 50 states. There are 14 New Hampshire alumni.

Mary Alice LaPointe, founder, CEO and chief strategist at To The Point Marketing Agency in Portsmouth, graduated from the program in May after attending the class portion of the program at Babson College, which designed the program.

One thing she gained is “the confidence to take on another fairly large initiative,” LaPointe said. “I think it’s easy for businesses to start doing what they’re doing and focus in on that.”

She is in the process of incorporating new software into her digital-marketing agency, a move that she expects will grow company revenues.

LaPointe said she and her co-participants struggled with several areas of running a business. They included hiring, firing and motivating employees as well as deciding whether to take on more risk and debt to grow.

“I think we all experienced constant worry about revenue, whether you’re bringing in a million dollars a month or bringing in $10,000 a month,” said LaPointe, who employs three full-time workers and three contract workers.

Participants, Gittell said, are required to attend “three residencies” lasting two to three days each at Manchester Community College, working with community college faculty, business experts and faculty from Babson College, which designed the program.

Participants must be involved in a business operating at least two years, employs at least two workers full-time and produces at least $100,000 in annual revenues.

“They want a diverse group of industries represented,” Gittell said.

Participants can rely on faculty from various community colleges and even take advantage of internet if they operate in an area with poor access, he said.

Applications are due in December, the first class held in March and completion in May.

Program results show 67 percent of participating companies boosted revenues within six months of graduating and 78 percent within 30 months.

Nearly half created jobs within the first six months and 57 percent within 30 months.

“Ultimately, this program is to be help business owners where they are in their local communities,” Colsher said. “If they create one job, we’re incredibly proud of them.”

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