DETROIT (AP) — Political and national business leaders gathered in Detroit on Tuesday to launch a program that will provide small businesses with access to millions of dollars in loans and other boosts.
The $20 million partnership was announced by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein and billionaire investor Warren Buffett. The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses aims to help create jobs and boost economic growth through the loans as well as business support and education provided by local colleges and universities.
Buffett believes hundreds of entrepreneurs will participate in the program over time, and he’s excited by the potential of the city. The Berkshire Hathaway Inc. chairman said “of course we would” invest in Detroit, which he added is undergoing hard times now but has “a great heritage” and “a great auto industry.”
“The United States with a flourishing Detroit is going to be a lot better than a United States without one,” he said.
Snyder said the program’s strengths are in the combination of business education and access to capital in a place with a long history of starting and growing businesses.
“Small businesses are vitally important to Michigan’s continued economic comeback and Detroit’s turnaround,” the Republican governor said in a statement. “The entrepreneurial spirit is deep in our state’s DNA.”
Blankfein said the various prongs of the program increase the chances that startups will succeed in the city, which has suffered massive business and population loss during the past few decades and earlier this year became the largest city in the nation to file for bankruptcy.
Detroit’s program is scheduled to begin in March and will provide funding to two local organizations that will in turn loan the money.
Classes are free to business owners, who are accepted through a competitive application process.
Goldman Sachs’ overall $500 million program is active in urban areas across the U.S., including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Cleveland and Philadelphia, as well as parts of several states.