QUESTION: Are there any special programs available to assist a veteran-owned business?
ANSWER: Veterans are one of the specific classes identified by the federal government for special emphasis. For example, for veterans who are starting or who own a business, Public Law 106-50 has made significant changes for doing business with government agencies and has expanded the role of the Small Business Administration in providing assistance.
Procurement opportunities are available to veteran-owned businesses -- in particular those firms impacted by defense downsizing -- to sell products and services to the federal government and to federal prime contractors. In fact, Public Law 106-50 mandates a three percent federal procurement goal for disabled veteran-owned small businesses.
To learn more about procurement opportunities and the bidding process, the UCF Small Business Development Center offers a series of six three-hour seminars free of charge, including: Selling to the Federal Government; Introduction to Federal Government Contracting; Proposal Writing; GSA Federal Supply Schedules; Marketing Your Product/Services and Subcontracting and Teaming.
For registration call 407-823-5554 or visit www.bus.ucf.edu/sbdc.
The Veterans Business Outreach Center also is available as a clearinghouse for veterans seeking business and technical assistance. The VBOC will cosponsor a veterans conference in Melbourne on Nov. 14 and Small Business In the Sunshine: A Procurement Opportunities Conference, to be held in Destin on the same day. Call the VBOC at 800-542-7232 or visit www.vboc.org.
In the last fiscal year, the SBA served approximately 72,000 veteran entrepreneurs through its programs and those of its affiliates. The agency has also guaranteed nearly 50,000 business loans to veterans during the past seven years for a total of more than $10 billion.
The SBA also offers a micro-loan program for loans with actual limits determined by each participating lender. Contact the Minority/Women Business Enterprise Alliance at 407-428-5860. For additional information on other SBA programs and services call the Office of Veterans Affairs at 202-205-6773 or visit www.sba.gov.
In addition to the federal programs and opportunities, the International Franchise Association recently launched the Veterans Transition Franchise Initiative. Under this program, more than 60 franchise companies have agreed to adjust the amount of their down payment to 10 percent or less of the initial required investment for honorably discharged veterans. For information call 202-618-8000 or visit www.franchise.org.
Veterans may also register free for the IFA's online tutorial program, Franchising Basics Course, and attend the 2003 Franchise Expo in Washington, D.C., at no charge.
Al Polfer is Director at UCF Small Business Development Center.
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