Small Businesss Resources Aid Veterans
For many years, this date, May 30, was celebrated as Memorial Day.
It was established as far back as 1868 as a date to honor those American military men and women who gave their lives in the service of their country. Unfortu-nately, over the years, the real purpose of the day, and the commemoration of the military heroes that gave their lives, has been somewhat forgotten and to a great extent it has become "just another holiday."
In fact, in 1971, Congress officially changed the official date for Memorial Day to the last Monday in May so that the country would have another three-day holiday weekend for family travel, further diminishing the real purpose of remembering and honoring those who made the supreme sacrifice for their country.
This year, that date was Monday, May 28. Hopefully all Americans took time on that day to pay honor to and remember with thanks those brave men and women who fought to protect our country's freedom.
These days, a high percentage of military men and women completing their time of service to their country and re-entering civilian life are unable to find jobs. Some of them are thinking about starting a career in today's crowded marketplace, but the jobs are lacking.
However, for many, if they already have business or management experience, or have developed new skills while serving our country, this could be the ideal time to consider starting a small business.
Veterans already make up a sizable portion of the nation's entrepreneurs. A 2004 study conducted by the Small Business Administration (SBA) found that 22 percent of veterans in the U.S. household population had either started or purchased a small business or were considering doing so. And more than 60 percent of new veteran entrepreneurs planned to operate their ventures at least initially from home.
Along with innumerable markets to apply their energy and interests, there are many funding assistance programs designed specifically for veterans. For example, the SBA's Patriot Express Loan Initiative offers loans of up to $500,000 to help start or grow a small business via a nationwide network of participating lenders.
Patriot Express loans feature the SBA's lowest business loan interest rates - generally 2.25 percent to 4.75 percent over prime, depending upon the loan's size and maturity - as well as a fast approval turnaround time. The loan can be used for most business purposes, including startup, expansion, equipment purchases, working capital, inventory or business-occupied real-estate purchases.
Another valuable source of information is www.vetbiz.gov, established by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to assist veteran entrepreneurs with starting and expanding their businesses in the federal and private marketplace. The site also includes a database listing businesses more than 51 percent owned by veterans or service-connected disabled veterans - a valuable tool for promoting your new business to potential federal and private-sector customers.
Veterans and civilians alike can profit from the extensive small business resources offered by SCORE. SCORE is a nationwide nonprofit association of experienced business people who provide free, confidential business counseling to small business owners.
The Sandhills Chapter is active in counseling, mentoring and presenting free business seminars. If you wish to speak to SCORE about your business, please register as a client by entering your information at www.edmisscore.org/0364 and one of our counselors will contact you.
In addition to counseling by appointment, the Sandhills chapter of SCORE has drop-in service, for those who have registered, from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesdays and Fridays at the Moore County Chamber of Commerce building on U.S. 15-501 in Southern Pines. The phone number (910) 692-3926.
More information on SCORE's counseling activity can be found at the Sandhills SCORE website, www.sand hillsscore.org.
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