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First Batch Of CEOs Finish Small Business Assistance Program

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The first Cleveland-area graduates of a small business support program were honored today at Cuyahoga Community College. Ideastream’s Brian Bull attended the event and has this report.

Monday, February 11, 2013 at 7:17 pm

Three dozen CEOs took the stage at Tri-C’s Corporate College East, as the Goldman Sachs “10,000 Small Businesses” program recognized its first round of Northeast Ohio graduates.

Faculty lead for the program, Al Lucarelli, read off the names, beginning with Edward Agoston, CEO of JTI Incorporated...a maker of specialty trailers and snow-removal equipment.

The $500 million initiative schooled business owners in accounting, negotiation, marketing, human resources, and other essentials over an 11-week period.

Kazell Pugh, CEO of TLC Springwater, says in that time, his company’s revenues increased 55 percent over 2011, and they added three new workers.

“Since we started the class in September, we have created jobs, we have grown our businesses, and we are working to create a stronger Cleveland, a stronger Ohio, and a stronger America.”

The program drew CEOs from a variety of industries, including manufacturing and IT. Ideal candidates had companies with business revenues between $150,000 and $4 million, employed at least four full-time workers, and operated in economically disadvantaged areas.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and U.S. Senator Rob Portman were among the dignitaries congratulating the graduates.

The program’s also underway in Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia, among other cities.

Meanwhile, the National Small Business Association reports that roughly half of its survey respondents anticipate a flat economy for 2013, and only 14 percent expect the economy to grow.

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