By Seth Goodall
Small Business Administration New England Regional Administrator
Across America, there are thousands of Veterans and transitioning servicemembers looking to start their own businesses. These men and women are proven leaders.
Each year, more than 250,000 servicemembers transition out of the military. Veterans possess the unique skills, experience, leadership and drive make them well suited to start businesses and create jobs in their communities.
Today, there are approximately 2.5 million Veteran-owned businesses employing nearly 6 million individuals. In the private sector workforce, Veterans are more likely than those with no active-duty military experience to be self-employed.
At the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Vermont District Office, we are committed to ensuring Veterans have access to the capital, counseling and federal contracting opportunities they need to start, build and grow successful small businesses.
In Fiscal Year 2013, SBA supported more than $1.8 billion in lending to more than 3,000 Veteran-owned small businesses and eight percent of the Vermont District Office’s loans were made to Veterans. As part of our partnership with the lending community, SBA is working with the top national, regional and community lenders to collectively increase lending activity to Veterans by five percent per year for the next five years through the SBA Veteran Pledge Initiative.
SBA also offers special assistance to small businesses owned by or employing activated Reserve and National Guard members. For example, military reservist business owners and companies employing a military reservist in a key position may qualify for SBA’s Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan program when an active duty call-up results in a financial hardship on the business.
The SBA also provides counseling for small businesses looking to take their business to the next level. Research shows small businesses with a counselor experience see increased sales and longevity and have hired more workers. SBA supports a nationwide network of Veteran Business Opportunity Centers, along with SBA’s other resource partners, providing business counseling and training. In 2013, with our resource partner network, SBA has trained and counseled more than 107,000 Veteran business owners to date.
SBA also connects Veteran-owned small businesses with federal contracts. Veteran-owned small businesses were awarded more than $12.2 billion in federal contracting in FY 2012. For the first time, the federal government exceeded the three percent goal to contract with Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses.
The Vermont District Office’s Veteran Business Officer, Chris Herriman, continues to work day-in and day-out to reaching out to Veterans. Herriman ensures Veterans are aware of the SBA tools and resources that can assist start and grow a business. The SBA has increased outreach via Veteran-focused events and training programs, including Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship. It provides business assistance to female Veterans wanting to start or grow a small business.
After World War II, Veterans helped reshape the American economy. They contributed to one of the longest periods of economic growth U.S. history. At the SBA, we know that with the right tools and opportunities, Veterans can continue to build our economy for the long-term.
For more information, call the Vermont District Office Veteran Business Officer at 802-828-4422 Ext. 206.