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Small Business Beginnings

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Small Business Beginnings

Dan Spangler is a retired Marine and Iraq War Veteran. In 2003, Spangler adopted his dog, Spanky from a local shelter near his home in North Carolina. The Marine and his companion spent a lot of time together and a bond grew between the two. Spangler began taking Spanky to obedience classes and became fascinated with animal training. Spangler began teaching obedience classes himself, after his discharge from the Marine Corps in 2004. Spangler knew that he wanted to go into business for himself, pursuing his passion for animals.

Spangler utilized his GI benefits to earn his Associates degree from Coastal Carolina Community College in Jacksonville, NC. While attending the school, Spangler visited the Small Business Center on campus and realized that there was still a lot about owning and operating a small business that he didn’t know.

Not surprising of a Veteran, Spangler strives to be the best in all that he does. So he put a lot of hard work and determination into educating and preparing himself for being a small business owner. For seven years, Spangler worked jobs unrelated to his desired field, saved money, and gathered knowledge and resources. And in 2010, Spangler opened his business, A Dog’s Dream, a training, boarding, daycare, grooming and retail center in New Bern, NC. In July, 2013, an article in The Raleigh News & Observer featured Spangler, his success, and his Veteran Owned Business.

Spangler’s success story is just one of many by Veteran Entrepreneurs. Rhett Jeppson, Associate Administrator for the US Small Business Administration Office of Veterans Business Development claims that Vets are 45 percent more likely to be small business owners than their civilian counterparts.

Nearly 10 percent of all small businesses nationwide are veteran-owned. Jeppson says that there are 2.4 million veteran-owned businesses that employ almost 6 million Americans and generate more than $1 trillion. It is for this reason that Jeppson believes that Veteran-owned business deserve our support.

Service Members who are transitioning from active service into civilian life attend mandatory Transition Assistance Programs (TAP) classes that provide them with a broad generalization of education benefits & programs, references and guides to occupational resources, including entrepreneurship information.

Vets Making the Leap to Entrepreneurship

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Vets Making the Leap

Veteran entrepreneurship across the United States is growing. The U.S. Census reports that 2.4 million small businesses are owned by former service members. That’s roughly one out of every ten small business. Veteran-owned businesses employ almost six million people and create more than a trillion dollars in revenue.

Business leaders have taken notice and now there are a full host of programs that are specifically designed to help Vets get their businesses off the ground. The U.S. Small Business Administration has created 10 Veteran’s Business Outreach Centers (VBOC) around the nation to train new and potential business owners. These centers provide workshops and counseling to Veterans, reservists and active duty military members interested in starting their own business or expanding an existing one.

Since the program’s creation in 1999, officials have seen a boom in Veteran owned businesses. A 2012 report released by the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy also found that Veterans are 45% more likely to start a business when compared to those without military experience. Last year just one of the centers helped launch 51 new Veteran owned businesses.

The VBOC also helps Veterans who are already entrepreneurs. Michael Nevils, a disabled Army Veteran, sells a portable emergency water storage system that he designed. Nevlis turned to the VBOC in order to utilize their programs and expertise to help his growing business.

“The VBOC has been wonderful,” Nevils said. “We’ve had guidance that helped us win government contracts and develop a solid game plan to grow our company and be successful.”

The VBOC does not provide loans, legal advice or accounting services. However, it does assign a business consultant, usually a retired executive, to work with each client to offer advice as they write business plans, develop a marketing strategy and tackle other basics of business.

There are also many other resources for Veteran Entrepreneurs to utilize. The Small Business Association operates more than 900 Small Business Development Centers (SDBC) across the U.S. where entrepreneurs, including Veterans, are given free technical assistance and access to institutions that offer loans and support for growing their business.

At the University of Central Florida, Gordon Hogan helps unemployed Veterans decide if they’ve got what it takes to actually be an entrepreneur through the school’s Veterans Initiative Program. Hogan is the director of the UCF Business Incubation Program. Launched last year, the program is gaining a reputation in the Veteran community.

“When you’ve served your country and you come back as an unemployed Veteran, things can be tough,” Hogan said. “But our servicemen and women are resilient and most are up for the challenge of starting a business.”

The Veterans Initiative offers Veterans who wish to start their own business the opportunity to attend FastTrac® NewVenture™ for the Veteran Entrepreneur, a $700 course for just $100.The course offers technical assistance in how to develop a winning business plan, find the right markets and startup funds.

Veterans who would prefer to own a franchise rather than market new and untested ideas have access to VetFran.  The program is run by the International Franchise Association, which connects Vets with franchising opportunities around the country. The VetFran program offers training, financial and technical assistance and support from the franchising industry to match veterans with the right opportunities.

$98.8 Million Contract Awarded

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs has awarded a $98.8 million contract to build a new rehabilitation facility located on the campus of the VA Palo Alto Health Care System.

“This new Polytrauma-Blind Rehabilitation Center will allow VA to better serve our Veterans and active duty Servicemembers in a state-of-the-art facility, which will support the exceptional clinical care currently delivered through both programs, ” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.

In 2005, the VA Palo Alto Health Care System was designated a Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center. Since then, the program has been housed in an existing facility originally constructed in 1960. The Western Blind Rehabilitation Center, which began in 1967, has been housed in a building constructed in 1977.

The $98.8 million contract was awarded to Walsh/DeMaria Joint Venture V of Chicago, Ill., on Sept. 30. Construction is scheduled to be completed in spring 2014. The three-story facility will be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver equivalency.

This will be VA’s first and only Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center to be combined with a Blind Rehabilitation Center. At 174,000 square feet, this new facility is the largest consolidated rehabilitation center in VA. The Rehabilitation Center includes 24 beds for the polytrauma program, 32 beds for the blind rehabilitation program, and 12 beds for the polytrauma transitional rehabilitation program.

The center will also have an outpatient physical therapy/occupational therapy clinic, an outpatient physical medicine and rehabilitation clinic, and clinical programs for Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom Veterans. In addition to the new Polytrauma-Blind Rehabilitation Center, a 600-car, four-story parking garage will be constructed adjacent to the new facility to support the growing demand for onsite parking.

Providence, RI – Nominations are now being accepted by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for the 2012 Rhode Island Small Business Person of the Year and other small business awards. Winners will be honored during the Rhode Island Small Business Week celebration in June.

Awards will be presented in 10 categories. Any individual or organization dedicated to the support of the small business community may submit nominations for these prestigious awards. Award guidelines and nomination forms are available from the SBA Rhode Island District Office by calling (401) 528-4561, or by visiting the SBA Website at The Nomination deadline is Thursday, November 10, 2011.

The other awards include: Entrepreneurial Success Award, Jeffrey Butland Family-Owned Business of the Year, SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Small Business Exporter of the Year, Financial Services Champion, Minority Small Business Champion, Veteran Small Business Champion, Home-based Business Champion, and Women in Business Champion.

The Rhode Island Small Business Person of the Year will also have the opportunity to participate in the National Small Business Week activities and meetings with government officials in Washington, DC, and will compete for the National Small Business Person of the Year Award.

Champion awards are presented to persons who have used their professional skills or personal talents to further public understanding and awareness of small business. Candidates must have taken an active role in creating opportunities to promote the interests of small business. Persons nominated for Champion awards need not be an entrepreneur.

For more information about the SBA Small Business Awards, contact Faith White at (401) 528-4561, or by e-mail at

2011 Women in Power Impacting Diversity

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VAMBOA would like to congratulate Wendy Matheu for being named one of the DiversityPlus Top Women in Power award winners. Ms. Matheu, the Supplier Diversity Manager at Amgen, was responsible for Amgen’s sponsorship of the Power Your Business Conference in April, and she also served as Emcee of the event.