By Cpl. Christofer P. Baines, Headquarters Marine Corps
The Small Business Administration announced Operation Boots to Business July 12. The program gives veterans access to valuable resources to help them accomplish their dreams of starting and operating small businesses.
The Marine Corps is the pilot service for this program. The program is now being offered at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.; Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C.; and MCB Camp Pendleton, Calif.; Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center Twenty-Nine Palms, Calif. It is schedule to launch nationwide for all services in 2013.
According to Small Business Administrator Karen Mills, one-quarter of veterans are interested in business, with 2.5 million vet-owned businesses providing employment for 5.8 million people.
They’re exactly what we need right now to grow our economy and create good jobs in our communities, said Mills. What were focused on across the whole administration is making sure our nations veterans have the capital and the advice, and counseling, and access to federal contracting opportunities they need to start, build and grow successful businesses.
In fiscal year 2011, SBA supported more than 4,300 loans to veteran-owned businesses totaling more than $1.5 billion, and we have a special patriot loan program that is designed particularly for veteran entrepreneurs, she added.
The new program will link into the Corps transition readiness seminar, a required seminar for Marines separating from the Corps. The seminar offers four pathways Marines can choose to prepare for civilian life: employment, technical training, education and entrepreneurship. If a Marine chooses the entrepreneurship pathway, this program will provide the skills, knowledge and resources to put Marines on the road to success.
What we’ve built together is going to do a great job in preparing our Marines and their families for transition into the marketplace Col. Grant Olbrich, Current Operations section head, Marine and Family Programs Division. Were going to turn over more productive Marines back to the civilian community, and they’re going to bring their inherent leaderships skills to bear along with skills they learned from Boots to Business, to start up their own businesses and nonprofits.
Military veterans have a long tradition of business ownership in the United States, said Mike Haynie, executive director of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, Syracuse University. If you looks back at our World War II generation of veterans, a full 50-percent of that generation launched businesses after leaving the military, and these veteran business owners played a central role in the economic growth and prosperity of our nation over the next 50-years.
This new partnership offers the tools to ensure Marines follow in the steps of those who came before them and helps them continue to support their nation as productive citizens.