By Franklin J. Sciortino
Across America, thousands of military veterans, spouses and transitioning service members are looking to start their own businesses. These men and women are proven leaders, and we know that they make outstanding business leaders.
Each year, more than 250,000 service members transition out of our military. These veterans possess the unique skills, experience, leadership and drive that make them ideally suited to start businesses and create jobs in their communities.
Military spouses also stand and serve alongside our men and women in uniform. Through their dedication to their spouse and his or her service to our country, they show unwavering support for our nation’s Armed Forces while balancing the many demands of military life.
Military spouses make constant sacrifices for their families as they deal with multiple deployments and the added pressure of a loved one being away for extended periods of time, all while raising and supporting their families. And due to the nature of their lifestyle, it can be challenging for military spouses to find and retain employment on a consistent basis.
The good news is that entrepreneurship can be a transportable and flexible employment opportunity for military spouses who support military careers.
That’s why the U.S. Small Business Administration, its regional districts and its resource partner network are here to set up these entrepreneurs for success by providing the same counseling and training, access to capital and disaster assistance, and government contracting resources that are available to service members and veterans.
SBA offers special assistance for small businesses owned by or employing activated Reserve and National Guard members. For example, military reservist business owners and companies that employ a military reservist in a key position may qualify for SBA’s Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan program when an active duty call-up results in a financial hardship on the business.
Fee waivers on all SBA Express loans to veteran-owned small business became permanent under the CARES Act. These term loans or lines of credit can be used for business start-up or expansion, providing vital capital for success. You can use SBA’s Lender Match tool to connect with lenders.
SBA supports a nationwide network of Veteran Business Opportunity Centers which, along with SBA’s other resource partners, provide business counseling and training. To find a Center near you, see SBA’s website www.sba.gov/local-assistance
SBA also connects veteran-owned small businesses with another important source of funding — federal contracts. In FY 2020, veteran-owned small businesses won more than $161 million in federal contracts performed in the WNY community.
The SBA continues to work to reach out to and connect with veterans in our communities to make sure they are aware of the SBA tools and resources that can help them start and grow a business.
We’ve also increased outreach via veteran-focused events and training programs including Operation Entrepreneurship and B2B ReBoot, which provides focused business assistance to military spouses and veterans of all service areas and branches with a passion for and an interest in either starting a new small business or growing an existing one.
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 we are here to help.
For more information, contact the SBA St. Louis District Office at (314) 539-6600, the Kansas City District office at 816-426-4900 or the Springfield Brank Office at (417) 889-6912.
Franklin J. Sciortino is the SBA Buffalo District Director.