PhillyInc: Mike Armstrong: Two good chances for small-firm education

Posted: January 15, 2013

As officials described the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program last week, I was reminded of another educational effort aimed at ongoing enterprises.

The U.S. Small Business Administration launched its Emerging Leaders 200, or e200, training program - described as providing MBA-like curriculum to people with little time or money to pursue one - in Philadelphia in 2008.

Both programs focus on operating businesses, not start-ups. The required minimum is at least two years in business for the Goldman Sachs effort and three years for e200. Firms also must be generating revenue - between $150,000 and $4 million for Goldman Sachs, and at least $400,000 for e200.

Both are free to the business owner who gets accepted into the 13- to 14-week classes - which average about 15 people for e200 and 30 for Goldman Sachs - but they involve hours in the classroom, plus time spent on homework, business- plan writing, and mentoring.

One difference is the funding source. Goldman Sachs has put up $200 million of its own money to fund its program, developed by Babson College, now in nine cities. Taxpayers foot the bill for the SBA to run e200 in 17 cities and 10 American Indian communities.

In the Philadelphia area, 52 business owners have graduated from the e200 program. While local SBA officials didn't have information on how the training has affected them, they did provide national statistics, developed from a recent survey of the program's 952 graduates.

With a 58 percent response rate to that survey, the SBA says that e200 graduates have increased annual revenue on average by 67 percent, or $1.8 million. On average, those companies employ 14 people. Collectively, they have added 908 full-time positions since completing e200 coursework.

In addition, the survey found that those businesses were able to raise a total of $26.4 million in new financing, with an average loan size of $334,000.

With both programs scheduled to be held this spring, Philadelphia small- business owners will have two chances to get schooled.

Contact Mike Armstrong at 215-854-2980 or, or follow on Twitter @PhillyInc. Read his blog, "PhillyInc," at

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