Small business owners interested in taking part in the “10,000 Small Businesses in Baltimore” program, a $10 million partnership between investor Warren Buffet, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan State University, can learn more about the program at an Open House and Information Session this week.

The event will take place Thursday, Aug. 24 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Morgan State’s Graves School of Business, 4200 Hillen Rd. in Baltimore. Morgan, along with the program’s other higher education partners, the Community College of Baltimore County and Johns Hopkins University, are looking for the next class of 30 “scholars” for the “10,000 Small Businesses” upcoming five-month program, scheduled to start in late November.

At the open house, prospective applicants will learn more about the small business development initiative, and get details on how to apply. Eligible applicants must have a business that has been in operation for two years, with a minimum of two employees including the owner, and have at least $100,000 in annual revenue.

“While this is a program for entrepreneurs, it is not a start-up incubator,” said Joseph Wells, program manager for the Baltimore branch of the nationwide “10,000 Small Businesses” initiative.

“We want to make sure we have a mix that represents the demographics of Baltimore as well as the business demographics,” Wells added. “We want to have a racial ethnic and gender mix appropriate to this area in addition to a healthy mix of manufacturing, consulting, personal and professional services companies.”  

Morgan State University officials said they intend to use their partnership in the program to drive further success in local small businesses, and encourage urban renewal and employment opportunities in communities that have been left behind.

“Baltimore has been challenged on many fronts,” said David Wilson, president of Morgan State University. “Foremost amongst those is how do we ensure that the development of small business and entrepreneurship in Baltimore, that has been the DNA in the African American community, continues to grow and prosper?”

“The partnership with Goldman Sachs and Bloomberg Philanthropies is designed to reignite and attract small businesses that are currently operating in this space with potential to grow and create more jobs for Baltimoreans,” said Wilson.

Kirk Carrington, entrepreneur and owner of Charity Network, Inc., is one of three business advisors or professional coaches assigned to work closely with the incoming class of business owners who make the cut for the November program.

“Oftentimes entrepreneurs don’t have a person to go to with concerns or fears that they may have. We serve as their personal cheerleaders throughout the program,” Carrington said. “A lot of entrepreneurs spend so much time working in the business that they don’t have time to work on the business. This program gives them the time to think more about their business and chart out where they are going and to develop a path to get there.”

The $10 million commitment in Baltimore, a co-investment between Goldman Sachs and Bloomberg Philanthropies, marks the first-ever co-investment in the Goldman Sachs nationwide 10,000 Small Businesses program, which provides a practical business education and access to capital for small business owners.