July 13, 2012

SBA program helps veterans start businesses

by Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

Transitioning service members and veterans will be able to learn how to become entrepreneurs through a U.S. Small Business Administration-sponsored pilot program, SBA Administrator Karen G. Mills told reporters July 11.

Operation Boots to Business: From Service to Startup is a pilot program designed to provide the training, tools and resources that transitioning service members and veterans will need to establish businesses, Mills said.

“We know that a quarter of veterans are interested in buying or starting their own businesses,” she said.

The pilot program will begin at four Marine Corps bases: Quantico, Va., Cherry Point, N.C., and the Camp Pendleton and Twenty-nine Palms installations in California.

Mills said the SBA wants veterans to have the capital, advice and counseling, and access to federal contracting opportunities to start, build and grow successful businesses.

“Operation Boots to Business will increase their likelihood of success,” Mills said.

The program has four phases:

  • Exposure to entrepreneurship as a potential career path, which will be offered to all service members leaving the military;
  • In-person and interactive classroom training;
  • A feasibility analysis for potential business plans; and
  • An eight-week online course outlining the basics of business ownership.

Mills said the SBA has partnered with the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments and a network of resources to train 20,000 returning Marines. By fiscal year 2013, she said, the program will be offered across the board to transitioning service members.

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