LaGuardia recruits small biz

Jackson Heights lawyer Mercedes Cano (l.) talks about how Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses Program at LaGuardia has helped her while Dina Powell, of the Goldman Sachs foundation (second from r.), and Rep. Joseph Crowley (r.) listen. Photo by Rebecca Henely
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U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) and LaGuardia Community College invited entrepreneurs in Queens and the Bronx Monday to take part in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program at the Long Island City institution.

“Our entire nation relies on you being healthy,” Crowley told the group of about 70 entrepreneurs at LaGuardia’s recruitment event.

The educational program seeks to help grow businesses that have been in operation for two years, have a minimum of four employees and revenues between $150,000 and $4 million. Entrepreneurs who sign up for the free program can not only learn about marketing, accounting and social media, but also develop a network with their fellow students and get access to capital.

“They really go through a curriculum,” said Jane Schulman, executive director of the 10,000 Small Businesses program at LaGuardia.

The college, at 31-10 Thomson Ave., was the first institution to partner with Goldman Sachs and offer the program, and now it has expanded to colleges in cities across the country. Goldman Sachs hopes to help 10,000 small business owners through the program, and at LaGuardia 110 have graduated from the program with 28 more expected to join them soon.

To recruit even more small businesses, Crowley teamed up with LaGuardia to make small businesses in his district aware of the program. The congressman’s current district encompasses Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst and parts of Woodside, Sunnyside, Maspeth, Elmhurst and the Bronx.

“This is a great example of the private-public partnership,” Crowley said.

Recent 10,000 Small Businesses graduate Mario Fichera, part of the Woodside business Visual Millwork and Fixture Mfg. Inc., said he enrolled to give the business that had been in his family for four generations a shot in the arm due to hardship from the 2008 recession.

“It was probably one of the best decisions I ever made,” Fichera said.

Dina Habib Powell, president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, said of the businesses entrepreneurs that have gone through the program 99 percent have graduated, 75 percent have increased their revenue and more than 50 percent are creating new jobs.

“We’re growing all the time,” Powell said.

Mercedes Cano, a Jackson Heights immigration lawyer who is in the program, said it had helped make her talents as a lawyer profitable. She said experience had taught her that just being a good lawyer is not enough to run a successful firm.

“It challenged you to think about what you need to do and then it guides you,” Cano said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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