Jordan and Kristin Winspear own a construction company that is building a parking garage for the VA Hospital in Boise, Idaho. Not only is the project financially attractive, Jordan says it’s personally gratifying – as a service-disabled veteran of the Coast Guard, he spent ten years getting medical care at that very hospital.
Winspear Construction is one of 2.5 million veteran-owned small businesses in the United States. As we recognize next week, November 5-9, 2018, as National Veterans Small Business Week, I am proud to recognize all of the SBA programs that help veterans, military members transitioning to civilian life, and their spouses start and grow businesses of their own. And it’s my honor to announce a new pilot program aimed at expanding these initiatives.
Nearly one in ten small businesses in the U.S. is owned by a veteran. Together, they employ nearly 5 million American workers and produce more than $1 trillion in sales every year. The SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development, along with 22 Veterans Business Outreach Centers nationwide, provides resources specifically designed to help vets and military spouses start or grow a business. Among these are the Boots to Business program, which provides more than 700 entrepreneurship classes a year at 200 American military installations in the U.S. and abroad; and the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business program for federal contracting, which certifies qualified companies to compete for contracts to sell their products and services to the federal government. The government has an annual goal that 23% of all federal contract dollars go to small businesses – and 3% of those to small businesses owned by service-disabled veterans. I am proud to note that this goal has been exceeded for the past five years, with 4.1% of government contracts in FY 2017 going to service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses.
Today, the SBA joined its partners at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to announce a new seven-month pilot program that will leverage existing veterans’ entrepreneurship programs and build on their accomplishments. Through a Memorandum of Understanding I signed with VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, the SBA and VA will develop and launch an intensive entrepreneurship training program for veterans, helping them improve their management and executive leadership skills. The two Agencies will work together on shaping and scaling this new, in-depth program, and I look forward to our collaboration. Funding for this program comes from President Trump, who showed his dedication to small businesses and to our nation’s veterans by donating his second-quarter salary to the SBA.
As we approach Veterans Day and National Veterans Small Business Week, I encourage all Americans to thank those who have served our country in uniform – and to support their continued success as civilians.