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SBA launches program to help transitioning service members, veterans become entrepreneurs

'Operation Boots to Business’

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has joined with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense to launch a training program for transitioning service members and veterans to help them become entrepreneurs and create jobs. Operation Boots to Business: From Service to Startup is a national initiative that will be piloted with the U.S. Marine Corps.

“Our service men and women have made incalculable contributions and sacrifices for our country, and supporting them as they pursue their dreams to start or grow their own business is one of our highest priorities,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. “Through this partnership, we stand ready with support, entrepreneurial training, and resources that are critical tools to help them start businesses, drive economic growth and create jobs for themselves and their communities.”

Entrepreneurship and small business ownership are valuable opportunities for transitioning service members and veterans. It is estimated that within the next year, nearly 40,000 military personnel will transition back into civilian life in San Diego and Imperial Counties. Transitioning veterans are natural entrepreneurs who possess the skills, experience and leadership to start businesses and create jobs.

Veterans make up a large number of successful small business owners. Nine percent of small businesses are veteran-owned. These 2.45 million veteran-owned businesses employ more than 5 million individuals. In the private sector work force, veterans are more likely than those with no active-duty military experience to be self-employed.

Operation Boots to Business: From Service to Startup will help support veterans as they grow businesses and create jobs by building on SBA’s role as a leader in entrepreneurship training.

SBA will help connect veterans with its resource partner network — Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, SCORE, and Veterans Business Opportunity Centers — for support throughout the life-cycle of their new businesses.

Through its ongoing collaboration with Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families, SBA also will provide comprehensive training materials specifically geared toward transitioning service members.

SBA partners will coordinate training and services at military bases around the country, delivering a face-to-face introductory entrepreneurship course. In addition, an intensive eight-week online business planning training will be provided by Syracuse University and its affiliated university partners for those service members who choose to continue to pursue entrepreneurship after the face-to-face introductory course. Following, service members and veterans will be referred to SBDCs, WBCs, SCORE chapters and VBOCs for counseling and training throughout the lifetime of their business.

The program will pilot in four locations: Quantico, Va., Cherry Point, N.C., Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Twenty-Nine Palms, Calif. It will be expanded across the nation during fiscal year 2013 with the goal of providing entrepreneurial training and awareness to transitioning service members from all branches of the military.

For more information on Boots to Business training program, and on how to take part as a transitioning service member, please visit sba.gov/bootstobusiness.

SBA currently engages veterans through its 60 local SBA district offices, 16 Veterans Business Outreach Centers nationwide, and its partnership with 1,000 Small Business Development Centers and some 12,000 SCORE counselors to America’s small-businesses volunteers.

Each year, SBA helps more than 200,000 veterans, service-disabled veterans and reservists.

To learn more about additional opportunities for veterans available through the SBA, please visit the website at sba.gov/vets.

Local statistics

According to an April 2011 San Diego Military Economic Impact Study commissioned by the San Diego Military Advisory Council (sdmac.org): “San Diego is home to the largest concentration of military in the world. It is the homeport to more than 60 percent of the ships of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, and more than one-third of the combat power of the U.S. Marine Corps. There are more than100,000 active-duty Navy and Marine Corps personnel assigned to the ships and bases in the San Diego region.”

San Diego County – Navy Active Duty: 51,907

San Diego County – Marines Active Duty: 57,060

There are 11 military bases located in San Diego and Imperial Counties, six of which are in San Diego County.

The three Commander, Navy Region Southwest installations in the San Diego area are:

• Naval Base Coronado

• Naval Base Point Loma

• Naval Base San Diego

The three Marine Corps Institute West installations in the San Diego area are:

• Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

• Marine Corps Air Station Miramar

• Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton

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