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Operation: Start Up & Grow

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Do you want to start a business? Expand your existing business? Find all the resources in one location at this FREE conference for veteran entrepreneurs! Operation: Start Up & Grow is the premier veterans business conference in Upstate New York for our veterans and members of the military community who want to start or expand their own small business. The half-day event includes breakout workshops, networking sessions with guest experts and exhibitors, award ceremony, free breakfast and lunch.

Online registration is now open: REGISTER HERE .
Questions? Please contact SBA at 315-471-9393.
Location: SRC Arena and Events Center,
4585 West Seneca Turnpike, Syracuse, NY 13215-4585 (Free parking in Lot # 13)



Patriot Level sponsor logos

With Honors Level

With Honors sponsor logos

Media Partners

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Shuttle image New for 2015!  FREE SHUTTLE roundtrip tranportation for Fort Drum/Watertown attendees provided by Ultimate Arrival LLC. 
To reserve your seat, please contact Jonathan Kilcourse at jonathan.kilcourse@sba.gov or 315-471-9393 ext. 226 as soon as possible.


8:30-8:55 Registration, Continental Breakfast & Networking with Exhibitors
8:55-9:05 Opening Ceremonies
9:05-9:15 Welcome Remarks ~ Barbara Carson, Colonel USAF Reserve, Acting Associate Administrator of SBA Office of Veterans Business Development

Keynote Address ~ Major General John Batiste, USA Retired, Buffalo Armory President & CEO

11:45 Networking Session with Exhibitors

Lunch Buffet & Award Presentation: 2015 Veteran-Owned Business Achievement Award

1:00 Emcee USCG CPO Retired Mike Price Interview with Chris Dambach, USMC veteran, Veteran Lawn Care Services President

Closing Remarks


   John Batiste Major General John Batiste, Retired, is the President and CEO of Buffalo Armory LLC John Batiste retired from the US Army on November 1, 2005, after more than 31 years of commissioned service.  His final assignment was commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division. A 1974 graduate of the United States Military Academy, John also holds a Masters Degree in Financial Management from the Naval Postgraduate School (1981).  He is a graduate of the Army War College (1994), the Command and General Staff College (1986), Infantry Officer Basic and Advance Courses, and was a Ranger School honor graduate. After retirement from the Army, John joined Klein Steel Service Inc in Rochester, NY and served as president and CEO from November 2005 to December 2013.  During this period, the company emerged stronger from the Recession of 2008 as an IndustryWeek Best Plant in 2011.  He also took charge of Buffalo Armory LLC in November 2011 to the present, a start-up company focused on producing a better armor and high strength steel to protect our troops in harms way. In March 2009, John co-founded Level Five Associates, LLC with his West Point classmate and fellow retired major general, Robert Mixon.  Level Five Associates is dedicated to helping organizations implement a culture of values-based leadership characterized by decentralization, empowerment, and initiative.... Read more.
  Barbara Carson Barbara Carson is the Acting Associate Administrator for the SBA Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD). At SBA, Ms. Carson develops, promotes and employs policies and programs that support veteran owned small business. Ms. Carson graduated from the University of Iowa in 1992 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. A Distinguished Graduate of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps, she was commissioned as an active duty U.S. Air Force officer and has served in multiple assignments in the nuclear and public affairs career fields. Initially, she served on an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) crew, achieving the position of Senior Missile Combat Crew Evaluator for the Peacekeeper ICBM force. In 1998, she joined the U.S. Air Force Reserve, earning another specialty code as a military public affairs officer. She is currently a Colonel and assigned to the Secretary of the Air Force Office of Public Affairs. During a family military assignment to Japan in 2006, Ms. Carson embarked on her first entrepreneurial adventure where she co-developed an outdoor personal training business with another military veteran. The business prospered and ignited her passion for and personal understanding of veteran-owned businesses... Read more.
  Chris Dambach Chris Dambach is Owner of Veteran Lawn Care Services, LLC and Bacon Bandits. Dambach is a Service-Disabled USMC veteran who served with the 1st Marine Division in Iraq in 2009. He started his first business with a simple Pennysaver lawn care ad in 2010. Dambach turned to the Onondaga Small Business Development Center for counseling advice in 2011 and attended the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans in 2013. While at EBV, Dambach was selected for the Entrepreneurial Spirit Award. As his business grew, Dambach used the SBA Patriot Express loan program to successfully compete for numerous federal government contracts across the Northeast. In 2014, Dambach launched a second business, Bacon Bandits, to tap into the Syracuse food truck scene. Dambach has attended every Operation: Start Up & Grow conference since 2010 and is thrilled to be a part of the event this year.


  • Allgaier Law Firm 
  • AmeriCU Credit Union
  • Bellevue University
  • Binghamton Vet Center
  • Bowers & Company CPAs
  • Bryant Industries 
  • Cayuga Chamber of Commerce
  • CEDA
  • Central New York International Business Alliance
  • Clarkson University
  • Clear Path for Veterans
  • CNY REDC Contract Local 
  • CNY Business Journal
  • Department of the Army Wounded Warrior 
  • Easter Seals New York
  • Empire State Development
  • Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR)
  • Galaxy Communications
  • Greater Syracuse Business Development Corporation (GSBDC)
  • Haylor, Freyer, & Coon, Inc.
  • Homes for Heroes
  • iHeart Media
  • Infinit Technology Solutions
  • Institute for Veterans and Military Families, Syracuse University
  • Iron Art 
  • Launch NY
  • M&T Bank
  • National Grid
  • New York Business Development Corporation (NYBDC)
  • News Channel 9
  • North Country Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC)
  • NorthsideUP
  • NTTS
  • NYS Department of Labor
  • NYS OGS Procurement Services
  • Office of the NYS Comptroller
  • Onondaga Community College Office of Veterans Affairs
  • Onondaga County Division of Purchase
  • Onondaga County Office of Economic Development
  • Onondaga County Veterans Services
  • Onondaga Employee Leasing Services, Inc.
  • Patriot Energy, a Division of MP-OE LLC
  • Prudential
  • SCSD Literacy Zone
  • Small Business Development Center at Onondaga Community College
  • Solvay Bank
  • South Side Innovation Center
  • SRC
  • Syracuse SCORE
  • Syracuse Vet Center
  • T. Gschwender and Associates 
  • The Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship, Whitman School of Business
  • The Tech Garden
  • U.S. Department of Commerce. Commercial Service
  • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration 
  • U.S. Small Business Administration
  • Ultimate Arrival
  • University College of Syracuse University
  • Upstate Minority Economic Alliance
  • USDA Farm Service Agency
  • USDA Rural Development
  • Utica Center for Development (CNY & Watertown Veteran Outreach Center)
  • VA Network Contracting Office
  • Veteran Lawn Care/Bacon Bandits 
  • Visual Technologies
  • WISE Women's Business Center
  • WRVO


Cosponsorhsip Agreement # 15-0248045. SBA's participation in this cosponsored activity in not an endorsement of the views, opinions, products or services of any cosponsor or other person or entity. All SBA programs or cosponsored programs are extended to the public on a non-discriminatory basis. Reasonable arrangements for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. Contact: Tania Hanouille at 315-498-6076.