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Op-Ed: Veterans are the ‘Fabric of America’s Small Business’

Like the American Flag that they have served under and fought for, our veterans remain the very fabric that this country was built on. Many veterans have taken what they learned in the military and have applied it to the business world. Many have gone on to become successful entrepreneurs.

Since 1953, the U.S. Small Business Administration has been providing entrepreneurial assistance to veterans and service-disabled veterans who return home to start, resume or grow their business.

Building a successful small business requires discipline, hard work and dedication — traits that are in no short supply among service members, veterans, and military spouses. Members of the military community have the skill sets to handle the challenges of being a business owner.

Time, effort, and grit — combined with community support and resources from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) — propel members of the military community to launch and maintain profitable businesses. The endeavors of business ownership are lifechanging for owners and those around them, from family members and community members to patrons.   Often, family members are motivated to either create additional businesses or assist in the one created by the veteran.

SBA offers special assistance for small businesses owned by or employing activated Reserve and National Guard members. For example, if you employ a military reservist who is then  called to active duty, SBA provides loans to help eligible small businesses with operating expenses until that employee returns through our Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.

Announced early November, SBA’s new funding opportunity for up to $400,000 to be awarded to up to 12 entities including private organizations, colleges and universities, private sector firms, nonprofit organizations and state, local or tribal governmental agencies to provide critical training and counseling to aspiring and existing veteran small business owners as a Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC). 

Author Marlene Cintron is the SBA’s Region II Administrator, overseeing agency programs, offices, and operations in the SBA’s Atlantic region, serving New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. She was born in the Bronx, to Puerto Rican parents.

Each award is made for a base project period of 12 months, with four 12-month option periods, starting May 1, 2023. Additional information about the funding opportunity, including specific coverage areas and instructions on how to apply, can be found at www.grants.gov and by searching “SB-OVVB-23-001.”

Applications submitted via other media, including SBA’s website, will be rejected, and will not be evaluated. Applications must be submitted via grants.gov no later than 11:50 p.m. Nov. 23.

Because of the value that our veterans bring to our business community, SBA also connects them with another important source of funding–federal contracts. Government contracting offers huge financial opportunities for veteran-owned small businesses.  What better way to reward our veterans than offering an opportunity to do business with the nation they have served!

Veteran small businesses can compete for set-aside contracts at the VA through the Veterans First Contracting program. Businesses must be verified as a VOSB or SDVOSB to participate. 

Service-Disabled Army veteran and Isla ALKA Puerto Rico, LLC business owner, Daniel Álvarez Lopez heard many great things about SBA and found the assistance and resources he received as a playbook for advancement.

“We met with SBA’s Small Business Development Center advisors who provided us with business assistance and the tools we needed to grow,” said Álvarez.  “SBA supports veteran entrepreneurship, and we plan to use as many programs and services as we can to boost Isla Alka Puerto Rico, including federal contracting as a HUBZone and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business and Contracting.”

At the SBA, we know that with the right tools and opportunities, our nation’s veterans can continue to build our economy for the long-term; and SBA’s Atlantic Region is here to help.

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

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