Like many Americans in my generation, my father was a World War II veteran. My life has been shaped and influenced by his service. Now, as Deputy Administrator at the SBA, I am committed to supporting America’s veteran entrepreneurs and business owners as they grow their business and put America back to work.
Just yesterday, I hosted a forum for young veterans on the campus of San Diego State University as part of SBA’s Young Entrepreneurs Series and National Entrepreneurship Month. I was happy to meet so many young veterans who are using the skills and leadership they learned in the military to start and run a business.
We talked about a number of important issues facing veteran-entrepreneurs who are part of America’s small business community. We discussed important American Jobs Act proposals such as the call that President Obama made yesterday for Congress to provide large tax credits to businesses that hire veterans and service-disabled veterans. This is something that everyone can and should support.
Today, we’re putting forth even more ideas to support veteran business owners as they grow and hire with a report from the Interagency Task Force on Veterans Small Business Development, which the President created and I have the honor to chair. The Task Force came up with 18 recommendations across three priority areas:
increasing opportunities for growth,
improving and expanding counseling and training, and
- reducing barriers while improving agency coordination and efficiencies.
You can read the whole report here. Recommendations range from leveraging existing lending programs like SBA’s streamlined Patriot Express loan program, to creating better web navigation tools for veteran entrepreneurs, to providing returning veterans with entrepreneurial counseling and training programs if they want to start a business.
This report will help us build on the success we have seen here at the SBA over the last three years. For example, we have doubled SBA lending to veterans since FY2009. In FY2011, we had an all-time record year in SBA lending, which included one of our top lending years to veterans with 4,300 loans to veterans supporting over $1.5 billion. In addition, SBA worked with both contracting officers and veteran-owned businesses to deliver the highest-ever percentage of federal contracts to service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses in 2010, totaling $10.4 billion.
Small business ownership is a part of the American dream. America’s veterans deserve every possible opportunity to start and grow a business, and all of America’s businesses should have strong incentives to hire those who have served our country.
Marie C. Johns is the Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration