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Op-Ed: Honoring America’s finest this Veterans Day

Author María de los Ángeles de Jesús is SBA Deputy District Director for the Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands district office.

This Veterans Day, while we take a moment to honor the millions of men and women who watch over our freedom, it’s important to also share information about the resources available to help veterans who are on the path to entrepreneurship.

Part of the SBA’s mission is to provide assistance to veterans and service-disabled veterans who return home to start, resume, or further grow their businesses. Among the many services the agency provides are training, business counseling, and management and technical assistance, all of which are provided through Veterans Business Outreach Centers, Small Business Development Centers, SCORE Chapters and Women’s Business Centers. All of these resource partners together provide more than 100,000 counseling sessions annually.

SBA also has available a product designed specifically with our military heroes in mind – the Patriot Express Loan program. Loans are available to veterans, active duty personnel who are in the military’s Transition Assistance Program, and all Reservists and National Guard members are eligible. In addition, their spouses, the spouses of active duty members, and the widowed spouse of a service member who died while in the service or of a service-connected disability, are also eligible.

Under Patriot Express, SBA can guarantee 85 percent on loans up to $150,000 and 75 percent on loans higher than $150,000 up to $500,000, providing lenders with the support they need to further extend capital to veterans and other members of the military community. The Patriot Express loan can be used for most business purposes, including start-up, expansion, equipment purchases, working capital, inventory or business-occupied real-estate purchases.

In addition, the SBA offers a direct loan program to help keep businesses operating during the critical months when their key employees or owners are called to active duty. The Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides funds to help eligible small businesses meet ordinary and necessary operating expenses they could have met, but are unable to meet, because an essential employee was “called-up” to active duty in their role as a military reservist.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2007 U.S. military veterans owned 2.4 million businesses, which accounted for 9.0 percent of all businesses nationwide, and employed nearly 5.8 million people. Veteran-owned businesses make significant contributions to the economy and, because of the unique technical and leadership skills veterans acquire through military service, they are well suited to become successful entrepreneurs.

At the SBA Puerto Rico office, we have a Veterans Business Development Officer ready to assist in your small business endeavors. Just give us call at (787) 766-5572. More information about SBA’s full range of services can also be found at: www.sba.gov/vets  and for reservists at www.sba.gov/reservists.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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