Brown was among the first local business people to sign on to the $500 million nationwide program after Goldman Sachs, at Mayor Nutter's insistence, expanded it to Philadelphia in January last year.
Goldman Sachs has invested $20 million here. Of that, $10 million is for loans to small businesses, made through the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. (PIDC). An additional $5 million over five years is to provide free classroom education to selected business owners through CCP. Another $5 million would go to Lancaster-based Community First Fund.
According to PIDC president John Grady, the loan program has so far provided about $2.3 million to seven local businesses. Another seven loans worth about $2.4 million are in the works, he said.
The education program, developed by Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., is considered intense, typically involving 100 hours of course work. Geared toward those already in the thick of operating a business, the modules include understanding financial statements, human resources, leadership, marketing, and operations.
So far, 50 local small-business people have graduated from the program. A reception is scheduled Thursday night to honor 30 more who will have completed the effort.
"They go through a fairly rigorous process, which must be painful for people not used to being back in school," said Alan Greenberger, Philadelphia's deputy mayor for economic development. "They get a lot of good, practical information that most business people acquire over a lifetime. They get it in 12 weeks."
Brown offered an example that benefited him: In one role-playing exercise, he became a banker who had to assess a loan-seeker's request for funds.
"I learned the power of simplicity," said Brown, who had previously put together a loan proposal of his own that ran more than 100 pages. He pared that application down and secured a $400,000 line of credit.
In a roundabout way, CCP has benefited as well, according to Judith Gay, its president.
The program is taught by the college's faculty members, who receive their own extensive training from Babson. Lessons learned are then incorporated into courses taught at the college.
"This was a great opportunity for our faculty to acquire some new kinds of techniques for engaging learners in education," Gay said.
BY THE NUMBERS
Amount Goldman Sachs invested in Phila. region out of a $500 million nationwide program.
Amount of the
$20 million that
for loans to area small businesses.
Length in weeks of the free educational program (about 100 hours of course work) supported by