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With thousands of veterans returning home in coming months and years, America has both an unquestioned responsibility and a compelling incentive to help them leverage their leadership skills to start or grow a small business and create jobs.
- In FY 2011, SBA had one of its strongest years ever in lending to veterans with more than 4,300 loans supporting $1.5 billion in financing for veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs) through SBA’s top two loan programs.
- Since FY 2009, SBA lending to VOSBs nearly doubled. Cumulatively, SBA has made over 12,000 loans to VOSBs supporting over $3.1 billion in lending over the past three years. This includes over $460 million delivered through a streamlined, low-interest program (Patriot Express) for veterans, which SBA extended through 2013.
SBA worked with both contracting officers and VOSBs to deliver the highest-ever percentage of federal contracts to service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses in FY2010, totaling $10.8 billion.
- Also, SBA reestablished a level playing field for service-disabled veteran-owned businesses that compete with other small businesses for set-aside contracts.
Since 2009, the SBA has dramatically increased the number of counseling and training resources available to veterans and VOSBs. This includes:
- doubling the number of SBA Veteran Business Outreach Centers nationwide;
- expanding the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities to eight top U.S. business schools nationwide, and providing additional online training (Operation Endure & Grow) for reservists and military families;
- funding a first-of-its-kind entrepreneurship program for women veterans at seven U.S. sites (Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship);
- awarding funds for state-based Small Business Development Centers that are reaching out to veteran entrepreneurs and VOSBs; and
- supporting the First Lady’s Joining Forces campaign through continued funding for the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) which created the Veterans Fast Launch initiative.
- Launched in 2011 with representation from the veteran community, SBA’s Council on Underserved Communities will help guide SBA to reach even more veteran entrepreneurs and small business owners, as well as other underserved communities.
At the President’s direction, SBA led the first-ever Interagency Task Force on Veterans Small Business Development, which included representation from seven federal agencies and four leading veterans organizations. The Task Force is focused on increasing the number of veteran-owned businesses and the number of Americans – including other veterans – those businesses employ. Through public meetings, the Task Force gathered input and ideas which ranged widely in scope, strategy, and feasibility.
In November 2011, the Task Force delivered its first report to the President, which included 18 recommendations across three priority areas:
INCREASE OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH. By increasing the flow of capital and federal contracting opportunities to VOSBs, veterans will have more opportunities to build or expand a business and hire more workers.
- Recommendations include: leveraging new commitments from lenders to serve more veterans, increasing veteran participation in microlending and surety bond programs, and more.
IMPROVE AND EXPAND COUNSELING AND TRAINING SERVICES. Tailored business counseling and training services helps put returning veterans – many of whom seek self-employment or small business ownership – on the path to success.
- Recommendations include: augmenting entrepreneurship programs for veterans, revising the Transition Assistance Program to include entrepreneurial resources, and easing navigation for veterans that go online to find federal tools.
REDUCE BARRIERS TO GROWTH AND IMPROVE COORDINATION AND EFFICIENCIES. By improving collaboration and focus across public, private, nonprofit, and academic resources, the federal government can more effectively identify and implement best practices that serve existing and prospective veteran small business owners.
- Recommendations include: reducing barriers for service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses in federal contracting, centralizing information for veteran-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, developing streamlined certification processes, and more.
- The report also includes additional recommendations ranging from modifications to the G.I. Bill benefits, to greater research surrounding veteran employment data, to revisions to unemployment compensation, and more.