Today, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced the award of grants to 10 local SBA Small Business Development Centers [SBDCs] to increase entrepreneurial assistance to veterans. The grants will provide approximately $1 million to fund programs for veterans that promote business ownership, and provide services to small businesses dealing with the deployment of key personnel overseas.
Each SBDC receiving funds will promote increased coordination of services to veterans, and will use multimedia tools to connect veterans through distance learning and customized online business counseling by providing services to reach the local veteran business community. Five of the centers were previously awarded grant funds to provide these services, and will now receive a second year of funding. Five centers will receive grant funds for the first time.
The five SBDCs receiving a second year of funding are located at the Research Foundation at the State University of New York; University of Arkansas at Little Rock; University of Kentucky Research Foundation in Lexington; University of Texas at San Antonio; and George Mason University in Virginia.
The five first-time grant recipients include SBDCs located at the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade; University of Southern Maine; University of Nebraska at Omaha; Southeastern Oklahoma State University; and Lane Community College in Eugene, Ore.
These SBDCs were selected from a highly competitive pool of applicants based on the range of services they could provide to veterans, and will provide the services as listed below:
* The Arkansas SBDC developed ArkansasVeteran.com as a one-stop virtual veterans’ center, providing information about health, education, employment, entrepreneurship and family issues. This portal links federal, state and local resources available to veterans. Several colleges and universities have joined in this initiative and offer free online courses to veterans through the site. The Arkansas SBDC also joins other veteran organizations to provide transition assistance for deployment, as well as for transition back to civilian life.
* The Kentucky SBDC created kyvetbiz.com to provide veterans with information about the services available through the Kentucky SBDC and other organizations that assist veterans. The portal provides online business courses in English and in Spanish; lists events and workshops occurring statewide; has a blog on popular topics for veteran business owners; and links federal, state and local resources available to veterans. The Kentucky SBDC is also active in veterans’ transition events.
* The New York State SBDC created a special "Veterans’ Business Services" Web page at http://bit.ly/NYSSBDCVeterans that links available services to veterans in the state, and also to federal, state and local resources. Online training and business development are also available from the site. The program director participates in seminars for veterans throughout the state, and plans events tailored to veterans.
* The San Antonio SBDC, through its newly created website, http://vasp.txsbdc.org/, is a one-stop reference for veterans and military personnel who are new entrepreneurs or small-business owners. It provides self-assessment tools, online counseling, distance learning, Web-based assessments, government contracting assistance, business planning and startup assistance, and help with preparation of applications for bank loans and financing. The website connects the resources of federal, state, and local entities that are available to veterans.
* The Virginia SBDC created http://www.vetbizresourcecenter.com/, which contains easy-access video guides for veteran business owners and prospective business owners covering a wide range of subjects -- such as transitioning from the military to business, preparing for deployment, financing, and contracting opportunities. The site links vets and reservists to other federal, state and local resources available to veterans. The Virginia SBDC also participates inveterans' conferences and events.
* The State of Colorado SBDC, along with its existing partners, will coordinate a multi-state effort, collaborating with strategic partners to create an integrated, one-stop virtual resource for veteran-owned small businesses. This resource will provide information and high-quality, cost-effective small business assistance to the veteran community through Internet-based consulting, training, social networking and a veteran database registry.
* The Maine SBDC will create a technology-based program to provide the military business community with tools to overcome the barriers to entrepreneurship. The project will include a marketing initiative to promote the educational services of the Maine SBDC available to the veteran community, provide online counseling and distance learning, and create a veterans assistance portal by coordinating with other organizations that assist veterans.
* The Nebraska SBDC will provide services to veterans by coordinating with the Veterans Administration, the Nebraska Department of Labor, the Veterans in Business Forum, the Nebraska National Guard, and the 55th Air Wing and Strategic Air Command at Offutt Air Force Base. It will use news media and speeches to service clubs and other organizations to reach veterans, particularly at the early stages. The center will develop a website for veterans to serve as a portal to online counseling and courses, and provide sound and timely information on starting and running a business.
* The Oklahoma SBDC, located in a state that is home to four active military installations, will work closely with each installation to provide services to veterans and military personnel. They will also work closely with Army family readiness groups, and provide training and education to veterans, and their families, who are in business or are considering starting businesses. The center will provide resources to military personnel that will transition to the civilian world. The SBDC will also offer training sessions and workshops via live video feed through a distance learning center, and expand on established channels of communication to reach veterans in need of assistance.
* The Oregon SBDC will establish a customized veterans small business management program, engaging National Guard business owners affected by unexpected deployment and difficult economic times. The training will allow peer veteran sharing of information and best practices in business, while developing strategic planning solutions to help Oregon’s veterans. The center will serve as a one-stop point of contact and deliver services through traditional one-on-one counseling and simultaneous distance education, VoIP audio and Web technology to eliminate time and distance barriers.
SOURCE: U.S. Small Business Administration
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