SBA reaches out to veteran business owners

The Small Business Administration is celebrating Veterans Small Business Week with an effort to reach out to veteran entrepreneurs.

Veterans Small Business Week is Nov. 4-11. The SBA is working with partner organizations to offer educational events, mentoring and training for veterans, and spotlighting capital and business development opportunities.

In the 2013 fiscal year, the SBA granted $1.86 billion in loans to 3,094 veteran-owned small businesses, a figure that has nearly doubled since 2009. In the Kansas City-area, the SBA made 59 loans worth $19.4 million to veteran-owned businesses in FY2013.

The SBA worked to get commitments from national, regional and local lenders to increase their veteran lending by five percent a year for the next five years. The SBA is also offering business counseling through a nationwide network called Veteran Business Opportunity Centers, which counseled 107,000 veteran business owners in FY2013.

The SBA is also working to connect veteran-owned businesses with opportunities to land government contracts worth more than $12 billion last year.

"Veterans are highly-skilled and highly-trained leaders in their communities," Acting SBA Administrator Jeanne Hulit said in a release. "It makes sense that after serving their country, they would want to bring these skills back home and start businesses. Our job at the SBA is to make sure veterans know what tools and programs are out there to help them achieve their dreams."

Veterans are 45 percent more likely to be self-employed. Helping them succeed not only helps to repay the debt of gratitude owed for their service to the nation, but it can decrease the unemployment rate and provide a boost to the overall economy, Hulit said in a release.

Veteran-owned businesses contributed 5.8 million jobs, payroll of $210 billion and annual sales of $1.2 trillion to the overall economy.

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