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March 21st Business Conference for Veterans and Military Community “Operation: Start Up & Grow” Features Speakers and Award Winners

Release Number: 
Advisory Date: 
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Advisory Number: 
Rachael Stanton (315) 471-9393 ext. 244

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Veterans and active members of the military wanting to start or grow their own business are invited to register for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 6th Annual Business Conference for the Military Community, Operation: Start Up & Grow. The conference is Thursday, March 21, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Gordon Student Center of the Onondaga Community College.  The free conference features speakers, workshops, networking and exhibitors, and is open to individuals with prior or current U.S. military service, including veterans, active duty, reservists and National Guard members.

Veteran entrepreneur and Syracuse University Falcone Center Executive Director Terry Brown and SBA Deputy Administrator Marie Johns will present keynote addresses at the half-day event. Former Special Forces engineer Jeff Yaro will share his entrepreneurial experience during a sit-down interview with event emcee Mike Otis.

 Terry Brown- USMC Veteran, TLBrown Management Group, LLC, Falcone Center Executive Director

Graduating from Clarkson University with a degree in engineering, Terry Brown joined the U.S. Marine Corps. Terry served as a battalion logistics officer, constructed an airfield in the Philippines, served as a base utilities officer and achieved the rank of Captain.  Following his discharge in 1975, Terry joined O’Brien & Gere in Syracuse where he rose from a construction engineer to chairman and CEO. Upon leaving O’Brien & Gere, Terry started his own consulting company, TLBrown Management Group in 2011. He is currently the executive director at the Syracuse University Whitman School Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship.

 Marie Johns- U.S. Small Business Administration Deputy Administrator

Nominated by President Obama and confirmed unanimously in the Senate, Marie Johns has served as SBA’s Deputy Administrator since June 2010.  Under her leadership, SBA had back-to-back record years in lending, supporting more than $30 billion in loans annually in 2011 and 2012.  As the economic recovery takes root, Deputy Administrator Johns is focused on ensuring that underserved communities, including women, minorities, veterans and young people, have the tools and resources they need to start businesses and create good-paying jobs. In addition to other duties, the Deputy Administrator has the privilege of serving as the chair of the President’s Interagency Task Force on Veterans Small Business Development.  Prior to joining SBA, Johns served as President of Verizon Washington and then went on to start her own small business in Washington, DC. Johns is a member of the Greater Washington Business Hall of Fame and one of Washingtonian Magazine’s “100 Most Powerful Women.”

 Jeff Yaro- USA Veteran, VET4U, LLC

Raised in Camillus, Jeff Yaro served six years in the U.S. Army during which he served as a Combat Engineer in the 82nd Airborne Division’s 307th Engineer Battalion and then as a Special Forces Senior Engineer on an Operational Detachment A Team in the 5th Special Forces Group (ABN) at Fort Bragg. As a Special Forces Senior Engineer, Jeff was extensively trained in construction, fortification, demolition and explosives techniques. After the military, Jeff successfully transitioned into a civilian explosives career.  Jeff returned to the Syracuse area and worked as a consultant while earning his M.B.A. from LeMoyne College. Jeff started his own construction business in 2009 and his company VET4U, LLC has quickly established itself as an up-and-coming general contracting firm, winning numerous contracts.

During the conference, Tony Baird Electronics, Inc., a veteran-owned company based in Syracuse, will be presented with the 2013 Veteran-Owned Business Achievement or VOBA Award. M&T Bank will be recognized with the 2013 Patriot Lender of the Year Award by SBA at the event. 

 Tony Baird Electronics, Inc. – 2013 Veteran-Owned Business Achievement Award

A service-disabled veteran of the U.S. Army, Tony Baird started his business in 2005 after several years as an inner-city teacher and coach. He was able to transition his military experience as a satellite communications expert into a successful startup in Syracuse with business counseling from Syracuse SCORE and the Onondaga SBDC. Tony Baird Electronics, Inc. specializes in the manufacturing and integration of technology solutions for education, government and industry sectors.  In 2007, an SBAExpress line of credit enabled TBE to pursue higher value federal government contracts. When troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan caused orders from their largest customer to quickly drop off at the end of 2010, Tony knew he had to lead his company into a sustainable future. By strategically operating through adversity in 2011 and early 2012, TBE repositioned product offerings, focusing on faster growing, more innovative segments to serve a more diverse range of customers in different geographical locations. Tony’s company was selected for the 2013 VOBA Award for its growth in sales, response to adversity and community contributions.

 M&T Bank – 2013 Patriot Lender of the Year Award

M&T Bank is the most active SBA Syracuse District lender to the veteran community for fiscal year 2012, making 9 loans worth over $530,000. Since  October 2006, M&T Bank has lent more than $6.7 million to the extended members of the military community including veterans, active duty members in the Transition Assistance Program, Reservists, National Guard members and  current spouses through the SBA 7(a) and Patriot Express programs.

Online registration is available by visiting http://www.sba.gov/operationstartup or contact the SBA to register by phone at 315-471-9393 or e-mail stephanie.ubowski@sba.gov.
In addition to speakers and award presentations, workshops on business financing, marketing, search engine optimization and government contracting will be offered.  Throughout the event veterans will have the opportunity to network with exhibitors from 40 different agencies and organizations that provide veteran business programs and services.  Continental breakfast and lunch are included at no cost to attendees.

The conference is sponsored by the Falcone Center at Syracuse University, Institute for Veterans and Military Families, M&T Bank, New York Business Development Corporation, Onondaga Community College, Onondaga Small Business Development Center, Syracuse SCORE, Tech Garden, U.S. Small Business Administration and the WISE Women’s Business Center.

All media are invited to the conference and interviews with speakers and award winners can be arranged by contacting Rachael Stanton at rachael.stanton@sba.gov or 315-471-9393 ext. 244. Complete event details and agenda are available online at www.sba.gov/operationstartup.

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