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Goldman Sachs Brings Small-Business Program to Arkansas

2 min read

Global investment bank and financial services giant Goldman Sachs of New York City announced Friday that it is rolling out its 10,000 Small Businesses initiative in Arkansas.

The move makes Arkansas the second rural state the company has selected to take part in a program aimed at spurring economic growth and job creation in U.S. communities.

As part of the program, Goldman Sachs is making a $20 million commitment to the Hope Enterprise Corporation community financial development institution, or CDFI, which will use the money to offer investments to small businesses in the region.

“Access to capital is a top priority for small-business owners across the country,” Hope Enterprise Corporation CEO Bill Bynum said in a news release. “We look forward to our continued partnership with Goldman Sachs to provide the financial stability that growing businesses need to thrive — in Arkansas, and other under-resourced rural communities across the South.”

Goldman Sachs has also selected a cohort of small-business owners to take part in what it bills as a “free MBA” program. Classes will be offered in partnership with the University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College in North Little Rock.

“Simply put, Arkansas has a phenomenal small business community,” Asahi Pompey, Goldman Sachs head of corporate engagement and president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, told Arkansas Business on Friday.

“The small-business community in Arkansas is a powerhouse fueling the local economy. They employ almost half a million people. As we thought where the program could make an impact, we knew we had to come to Arkansas.”

Pompey attended a ceremony Friday at the Clinton Presidential Library to announce the launch of the Arkansas program. Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEO David Solomon and Arkansas’ U.S. senators, John Boozman and Tom Cotton, also attended.

Pompey said companies from a cross-sector of industries will take part in the 10,000 Small Businesses program, ranging from microbreweries and cleaning service businesses to a pizzeria and IT service firms.

“It’s a wide spectrum of businesses that reflect the immense diversity in Arkansas,” she said.

Among the new participants is Samantha Stewart, co-founder and co-owner of Certified Pies, which has grown its business from a curbside- and delivery-only restaurant to a 2,000-SF dine-in space.

“Entrepreneurship is a vital pathway to economic stability for many rural communities,” Stewart said in a news release. “My husband and I founded our business out of necessity during the pandemic to bring in new revenue streams, but quickly found we needed more education about the foundation of our business to thrive. I look forward to gaining valuable insights into optimizing my operations during this critical moment for my business by taking the 10,000 Small Businesses program.”

Pompey said the initiative, now a decade old, has resulted in 74% of small-business participants experiencing revenue growth and 72% expanding their workforce. The 10,000 Small Businesses program has served more than 14,000 businesses across the country since its inception, according to Goldman Sachs.

The initiative plans to expand more into rural areas, reaching small-business owners in 20 states over the next five years.

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