From Boots to Business

by Deborah Z Mark

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Are you a veteran?  If not, you are probably lucky enough to know (or be related to) one.

Did you know that veterans are 45% more likely than those with no military experience to be entrepreneurs?

New SBA Programs for Veterans

Here’s some good news.  The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recently announced several programs to support veterans in small business:

  • The Veteran Pledge Initiative: a commitment by the SBA’s top national, regional and community lenders to collectively increase their lending activity to veterans by 5% per year for the next five years.
  • VetLoan Advantage: a strategic initiative that offers small business financing discounts and training to veterans who own businesses or who are interested in small business ownership.  Arizona veterans who own small businesses can save up to $3,000 by participating in this program, which includes SBA-504 (for purchasing commercial buildings or large equipment), Community Advantage loans (up to $250,000 for working capital and other needs), and SBA Microloans (provides up to $50,000 for working capital, equipment, inventory and business acquisition).
  • Operation Boots to Business (B2B) Program: an initiative to train veterans and transitioning service members in entrepreneurship.

Veterans often face challenges in raising capital or receiving a conventional loan.  The SBA expects to help an additional 2,000 veterans obtain loans with the support of its top 20 national lending partners and 100 additional regional and community lending partners across the United States.

Big Numbers

According to the SBA, 9% of small businesses are veteran-owned.

You’re probably thinking that’s not a very large number.

Think again.

Nine percent of small businesses in the U.S. equals 2.45 million veteran-owned businesses.  These 2.45 million businesses employ more than 5 million people!

SBA Administrator Karen Mills stated, “Our service men and women have made incalcuable contributions and sacrifices for our country, and supporting them as they pursue their dreams to start or grow their own business is one of SBA’s highest priorities.  Through this partnership with national lending partners and regional and community lenders across the U.S., we stand ready to serve veteran entrepreneurs with loan guarantees, entrepreneurial training, and resources that are critical tools to help them start businesses, drive the local economy, and create jobs for themselves and their communities.”

Hats off to our veterans.

For more information on SBA programs for veterans, log on to: www.sba.gov/veterans

image: nuttakit/freedigitalphotos.net