In order to fund the initiative, Goldman has pledged to contribute $500 million to the cause. Blankfein, Buffett, and Dr. Michael Porter of Harvard Business School will be on the advisory council which is responsible for the development, execution and evaluation of the program.
While, it appears to be a sign of goodwill, Both Buffett and GS will likely see a boost from the program.
Buffett, who has consistently remained bullish on the U.S. economy, sees small business owners as a necessary component of growth. Domestic growth will lead to big gains for Berkshire Hathaway and its affiliates.
For Goldman, the program couldn't have come at a better time. Although Blankfein insisted that the decision to launch "10,000 Small Businesses" was not motivated by the controversy surrounding Goldman Sachs, one can't help but look at the timing. With anti-Goldman sentiment mounting and CIT in the throes of bankruptcy, Goldman has a golden opportunity to improve its public image while branching off into the world of small business lending.
Whether the program is profit driven or not is still up for debate. However, for Goldman's sake, it would be in their best interest to ignore the bottom line for a while and focus on helping the people who helped them. The $500 million and Buffett's blessing are a good start, but it's going to take results, rather than an apology, a pile of cash, and a press release, to regain the public's respect.
-- Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.