The Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC), a part of the Small Business Administration (SBA), is designed to provide entrepreneurial development services such as business training, counseling and resource partner referrals to transitioning service members, veterans, National Guard & Reserve members and military spouses interested in starting or growing a small business.
August marks the one-year anniversary of the launch of the VBOC office, which provides a full-time focus on veterans. Under the leadership of VBOC Director Jeremy Horstman and Business Advisor Jeff Smith, the VBOC registered over 200 clients and attended training and seminars serving almost 1,000 veterans. They also assisted in the creation of 17 businesses, with over 30 jobs created or retained. Finally, they helped veteran clients obtain over $350,000 in SBA guaranteed financing.
By effectively managing their budget, and due to the growing client base and travel schedule, the VBOC hired two additional temporary business advisors, John Myers and Amanda Wynn. Myers has an extensive background in business, sales and marketing. Wynn started with the VBOC as a graduate assistant, and has become such a valuable member of the team that the VBOC hired her as a part-time advisor. The VBOC hopes to make these positions permanent.
Notable this month the Cain family of Brooklet, Georgia, will open their business, Cain’s Dairy Barn, which sells ice cream and coffee. Amanda Cain reached out to the VBOC in June of 2017 to get help in launching the business. After conversations with the VBOC team, the Cains quickly moved forward with their business concept, invested some personal funds and obtained a small loan to begin operations. They intend to have two part-time employees working in the store.
The VBOC director and three business advisors will attend four Boots to Business sessions at military bases in Georgia and South Carolina during the month of August. These entrepreneurial education sessions provide transitioning service members or retired service members with knowledge of the steps for evaluating business concepts, the foundation required to develop a business plan and information on SBA resources available to help access start-up capital or additional technical assistance.
The VBOC also conducted its first Boots-to-Business “Reboot” event at the Georgia Veterans Education and Career Training Resource (VECTR) facility in Warner Robbins, Georgia, on Aug. 7-8. The VBOC collaborated with SCORE mentors and the SBA to offer this training. Reboots are targeted at veterans who have already transitioned out of the Armed Services. Turnout was fantastic, and provided a great opportunity to meet and train veterans and work with SBA resource partners.
September will see the VBOC staff attending the AM Warrior Partnership in Atlanta, GA and Boots to Business at Hunter Army Airfield, Fort Benning, Shaw Air Force Base and Fort Stewart, along with the standing virtual attendance for the Reboot session at Kennesaw State University.