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Veteran-Owned Businesses - the Latest on Certification

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Veteran-Owned Businesses - the Latest on Certification

Published: April 27, 2010

I believe the single most common question I get when I answer the phones at lunchtime at our SBDC has to do with structure (DBA or corporation), to which I say, 'Depends on circumstances. Contact one of the SBDC centers nationwide.'

The second most common query involves someone who wants to be a contractor with a government agency: 'How do I become a CERTIFIED small business?' or 'How do I become a CERTIFIED veteran-owned business?' My general answer has been, 'Unlike the minority-owned or women-owned businesses, there really isn't a national certification process.' To which the caller complains: 'Then what are they asking for on this form?' My response is that it is a self-certifying process. Like some former President used to say, they will 'trust but verify' that the information is correct.

After the last call I received, I did come across the The Center for Veterans Enterprise Web Portal, which mentions a web registry. So I called to find out more. The database is required to verify veteran-owned businesses within three months, though, because of the great demand, I'm told it is taking as bit longer than that. At this point, the certified status will only be REQUIRED for contracts through the Department of Veterans Affairs, and not until January 1, 2012.

The database currently also contains companies that are registered but NOT certified as veteran-owned. Will these registered, non-certified, businesses remain in the database in a couple years? It is under discussion as to whether they'll stay, be removed or moved to another database. Will being certified by the VA fulfill the requirements of state and local entities that ask for veterans status? There is no mandate yet on this point. Still, if you are a veteran and an entrepreneur who wants to do business with the government, consider becoming certified as such.

For more information, contact the VA's Center for Veterans Enterprise.

*Link goes to a non-government website

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