According to the U.S. Interagency Task Force on Veterans Small Business Development, veterans own approximately 2.4 million businesses across the country — or 9 percent of all of America's companies. Those businesses generate about $1.2 trillion in receipts and employ nearly 6 million workers. Broaden the definition to include businesses in which veterans are at least half owners, and the numbers rise to 3.7 million businesses, $1.6 trillion in receipts and 8.2 million employees.
Funding and technical assistance abound for veteran-owned businesses. Here are just 11 in honor of Veterans Day, Nov. 11.
MU Extension Business Development Program
- Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Centers (MO SBTDC).
The MO SBTDC offers a variety of resources to veterans and their families who want to start or grow a business, including programs that help veterans with disabilities.
- Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (MO PTAC), another BDP program.
MO PTAC provides confidential services including counseling, computerized bid matching, prime contractor outreach, bid preparation assistance and more to obtain federal, state and local government contracts for small businesses, including disadvantaged, women-owned and veteran-owned firms.
- Patriot Express Loans.
SBA offers the Patriot Express Loan for veteran business owners, a loan of up to $500,000 at an 85 percent guaranty or a loan of $150,000-$500,000 at a 75 percent guaranty. This flexible loan can be used for almost any business purpose, including starting up, expansion, equipment, working capital, inventory or business-occupied real estate purposes.
- Economic Injury Disaster Loans.
SBA also offers economic injury disaster loans for military reservists whose businesses have suffered during deployment. These loans provide the necessary working capital to help small businesses survive until normal operations resume after a disaster. This loan is available only to small businesses when SBA determines they are unable to obtain credit elsewhere.
- Operation Boots to Business.
A consortium of partners offers basic business start-up classes delivered at military bases throughout the country. The Veterans Business Outreach Program, one Boots to Business partner, provides specialized business counseling, training, mentoring and referrals for veterans considering owning their own business. In Missouri, the center is located at the Veterans Business Resource Center in St. Louis.
State of Missouri
- National Veterans Small Business Conference and Expo.
This annual event, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, is the largest nationwide conference of its kind, providing veterans the opportunity to connect directly with procurement decision makers across government and commercial industry, network and market a business. The conference was held in St. Louis in 2013. The location of the 2014 conference has not yet been announced.
- Veterans Enterprise Web Portal.
The VA also has a dedicated portal for veterans wanting to start their own business. Veterans can use their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits for on-the-job training, apprenticeships and non-college degree programs to start a business.
- Show-Me Heroes.
Launched in 2010, this program helps Missouri's veterans and members of the National Guard reconnect with meaningful careers and encourages Missouri businesses to hire veterans. According to the program, more than 3,400 employers have pledged to hire veterans, with more than 4,500 veterans hired thus far. Veterans can also search for a job and post resumes. In 2012, Governor Jay Nixon visited MO SBTDC client Broyles Transfer and Storage, Kirksville, to present the firm with the Flag of Freedom award for hiring veterans. Employers are reimbursed 50 percent of a veteran worker's wages during training, and spouses are provided financial assistance to pay overdue bills and to help with transportation, daycare and vocational counseling.
- Missouri Veterans Commission.
This is a one-stop information source for veterans, their dependents and legal representatives to identify and secure state and federal benefits.
This group helps structure and facilitate collaboration between nonprofit and for-profit small business entities and veteran/service disabled veteran-owned small businesses. Veteranscorp.org acts as a clearinghouse for ideas and information deemed useful to veteran and service-disabled veteran owned small businesses.
- National Resource Directory.
This Department of Defense, Labor and Veterans Affairs partnership is for wounded, ill or injured service members, veterans, their families and those who support them. It provides better access to benefits and compensation, education and training, employment, family and caregiver support, health, homeless assistance, housing, suicide prevention, transportation and travel.
This story was featured in the Nov. 2013 newsletter