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Goldman wants to help small business

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Bill Radke: Yesterday, Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, made an astonishing statement about the credit crisis. He said: “We participated in things that were clearly wrong and have reason to regret.” He went on to apologize for them. Later in the day, the company announced a half-billion dollar initiative to help small businesses across the country. Now the company didn’t make an explicit connection between the two.

Marketplace’s Alisa Roth is in New York, where the program “Ten Thousand Small Businesses” will get its start. And she joins us live. Hi, Alisa.

Alisa Roth: Good morning.

Radke: Is this a PR move?

Roth: You know, if you believe what Goldman says, then no. Nobody said we did these bad things and so we’re going to do this good thing to make up for it. Goldman says it’s been working on this project for something like a year, so that means it predates a lot of the financial crisis and certainly all the public relations mess that’s come since. But there is the Warren Buffett connection. He’s one of the chairs of the advisory board. He says Goldman approached him about a month ago to get involved. And some people have pointed out that not only is a he a big shareholder in the company, but he’s also got a reputation for being really straight-up and honest.

Radke: OK so, PR move or not, Alisa, would you outline the program for us?

Roth: So it has three parts: the first is education. It gives small business owners access to business programs or busienss education programs at community colleges and other institutions. The second is mentoring and networking connections, both in the community and at Goldman. And the third is money. Goldman’s going to invest $300 million in loans and philanthropic support.

Radke: And what sorts of businesses are we talking about here?

Roth: This is not start-up capital. They’re looking for businesses in underserved communities. They want firms that have been around for at least two years and have at least four full-time employees. And they’re really looking for businesses where there’s potential for more jobs to be created in the future.

Roth: Marketplace’s Alisa Roth, joining us from our New York Bureau. Thank you.

Radke: You’re welcome.

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