[caption id="attachment_223423" align="alignright" width="252"] John Fleming | PHOTO COURTESY OF SBA[/caption]
As we enter the Memorial Day weekend, we take pause to honor the ultimate sacrifice far too many brave men and women made for the safety and security of the United States of America and our allies. As a veteran myself, I know that those who do return home, whether in times of war or peace, have also sacrificed a great deal in support of the American Way.
Abraham Lincoln said it best, “Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country's cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as he best can, the same cause.”
The Department of Defense cares for our troops while they serve, and the Department of Veterans Affairs leads a whole of government approach to support them after. Some may be surprised to learn the U.S. Small Business Administration is part of this community of support by helping active-duty men and women, veterans, and their spouses succeed as entrepreneurs through special programming and access to capital and markets.
Supporting veteran entrepreneurs isn’t just good for veterans; it’s good for our economy. There are 2.5 million veteran-owned businesses in the U.S. Despite the fact the majority of these firms are small (99.9%), they have a huge impact on our economy – nearly 380,000 veteran small business owners are creating jobs by employing 4.2 million people and paying $182 billion in total annual payroll. That’s an average of 11 employees per veteran-owned small employer.
If you are a veteran, or have veterans in your life, check out the SBA’s robust outreach network of Veterans Business Outreach Centers, District Field Offices, and resource partners offering counseling, training, mentorship, and assistance.
We’re also currently administering the Biden-Harris Administration’s Community Navigator Pilot Program, an American Rescue Plan initiative designed to reduce barriers all small businesses, including those owned by disadvantaged groups such as veterans, women, and those from rural communities and communities of color, face in accessing critical support. The program will provide $100 million in funding to 51 organizations ("hubs") to work with over 400 local community groups ("spokes") to connect America's entrepreneurs to federal, state, and local resources so they can recover and thrive.
Vets may also be interested in our quarterly Interagency Task Force on Veterans Small Business Development and our Advisory Committee on Veterans Business Affairs meetings to be held Jun 1st and 2nd. Presentations and minutes will be available after both meetings at www.sba.gov/ovbd under the "Federal Advisory Committees" section.
By SBA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator John Fleming