The Commonwealth of Virginia is currently home to more than 780,000 veterans. While the majority of veterans in Virginia are eligible for federal benefits, there are also many other sources of financial and practical support available to them. As well as favorable loans aimed specifically at veteran home buyers through the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are an increasing number of opportunities and resources for veterans to start small businesses. In recognition of their service to the country, both federal organizations and privately owned companies are happy to support veterans in their entrepreneurial projects.
Sharing resources with veteran entrepreneurs
From free entrepreneurship training programs to specialist VA home loans, veterans are able to access funding to help them move on after completing their service. As well as providing a personalized service for home loans, the Hero Loan Program also supports veteran-owned businesses and events throughout the country. Backing small businesses owned by veteran entrepreneurs is a way to show appreciation for their service and ensure their future success. In the U.S., around 9% of businesses are currently veteran-owned and to help these types of businesses in the local area, the Virginia Department of Veterans Services has created the position of Veteran Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Coordinator. The main role of the coordinator will be to develop a veteran ecosystem which will enable entrepreneurs to access resources, connect with local services, and find local networking events.
Technical support for veteran-owned businesses
Veterans throughout Virginia have been targeted as a group to receive technical assistance for their small businesses through the Virginia Small Business Development Centre (SBDC). Veteran owned businesses are highly valued, and the Centre has even established an annual award to recognize their achievements. In Central Virginia, veteran owned businesses have also been included in a select target group of businesses that are receiving assistance in creating a greater online presence. A program run through the Central Virginia SBDC has offered help in building new websites, designing online marketing and creating digital payment systems to 24 local businesses, in response to the recent increased demand for virtual services.
Helping small businesses run by service-disabled veterans
The Small Business Association offers a range of federal support for veterans which includes the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) program. If they qualify, according to the Virginia Department of Veterans Services this is one of the designations for which members of the Virginia Small, Women-Owned and Minority-Owned Business (SWaM) certification program can apply. To be eligible, a small business must be majority owned by one or more service-disabled veterans. Having SDVOSB status can give businesses a financial advantage over other small enterprises as the benefits include priority access to federal contracts and a greater chance of becoming a subcontractor for larger companies.
With access to a range of federal programs and support from other organizations and companies, entrepreneurial veterans are well provided for with both financial backing and practical help in their business ventures.
Story by Megan Howell