10/18/2012 03:10 pm ET Updated Dec 18, 2012

It's About Jobs, Not Big Bird

As pundits clash over whether President Obama or Mitt Romney won the debate, voters are focused on job growth and the economy. Simply put, it's all about jobs. At Long Beach City College (LBCC), located in southern California, we agree. We have partnered with the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program to grow small businesses and generate new jobs close to home. No matter who becomes the next U.S. president, we intend to work with small businesses to create a more competitive Los Angeles metropolitan area economy.

Fortunately, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein has thrown his support behind our effort. He joined LBCC during our October 2012 graduation ceremony of 250 small business owners who completed the program at Long Beach City College and Los Angeles City College. Joining Mr. Blankfein was City of Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster and U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Javier Palomarez. All expressed their commitment to supporting business development in the region, a region that has the highest concentration of small businesses in the U.S.

During the event's town hall discussion, Blankfein underscored the role of small businesses in salvaging our nation's beleaguered economy when he said, "Small businesses create economic growth and are at the heart of stronger, more vibrant communities. With the help of our partners here, 10,000 Small Businesses is contributing to growth and job creation across southern California."

Because of his support and our partnership with Babson College and the Initiative for Competitive Inner Cities, we are able to put small business owners through an intensive and accelerated business education curriculum and provide them with peer learning, business advising and other support services. The focus of the program is to provide small business owners with the tools and access to capital they need to grow their businesses and create jobs.

This public private partnership formed to create jobs and grow the economy is unique and an example of what we need more of. The program highlights the need for community colleges to go beyond workforce preparation and engage directly with local businesses and support their development and job growth. Community colleges in cities such as Chicago, Houston, Salt Lake City, New York and New Orleans have also answered the call and are implementing the 10,000 Small Businesses Program in their regions.

In Long Beach we've reached nearly 100 small businesses since the program was launched in 2010. Three quarters of these businesses have measurably increased revenues and over half have created jobs. The program has also allowed LBCC to increase the reach of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) network that it oversees in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. In 2012 alone the SBDC has supported 230 new start-ups, created 1900 jobs and helped retain 1250 jobs in the local economy.

Everyone has a stake in growing our economy. Community colleges are well positioned to support local communities. Let's encourage more dialogue and partnerships between public, private and philanthropic organizations. The result will be a stronger economy and a stronger nation.

After all, it's about jobs not Big Bird.