By Calvin W. Goings, Regional Administrator
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) would like to express our gratitude to the people who volunteer to keep our nation safe and strong which is why veterans are a particular focus for us. Did you know that veteran-owned small businesses account for a large percentage of small businesses? Veterans are at least 45 percent more likely to take the plunge into entrepreneurship than people with no active-duty military experience, according to a May 2011 study from the SBA Office of Advocacy. In 2007 (the latest data available from the U.S. Census Bureau), veterans owned 2.4 million businesses, or 9 percent of all businesses nationwide, generating $1.2 trillion in receipts and employing nearly 5.8 million people.
The facts show that these heroes live all around us in communities across the state of Washington. SBA believes veterans are an important part of our communities. We know that veterans come back with strong leadership skills and a thorough understanding of teamwork. But often times, veterans face challenges in raising capital or have trouble receiving a conventional loan. SBA has recently announced the SBA Veteran Pledge Initiative, a commitment by its top national, regional and community lenders to collectively increase their lending activity to veterans by five percent per year for the next five years.
With the support of SBA’s top 20 national lending partners, and approximately 100 additional regional and community lending partners across the United States, SBA expects to assist an additional 2,000 veterans obtain loans to start or expand small businesses by increasing lending by $475 million over the next five years. This equals a five percent increase above historic veteran lending activity by the SBA.
SBA also has teamed up with the nation’s 250 Certified Development Companies (CDCs) to launch an initiative which provides financing discounts and training to veterans who own businesses or are interested in small business ownership. The National Association of Development Companies (NADCO) and its member CDCs publish their reduced fees, training and incentives on their websites and at www.nadco.org. Veterans can save up to $20,000 on commercial real estate loans and reduced fees on Community Advantage working capital loans under $250,000. In 2013, 381 veterans have received loans totaling $2.6 million – or approximately 10 percent of all loans offered through NADCO members.
The SBA’s Patriot Express loan program has supported nearly $580 million in lending to veterans over the past four years alone. Here in Washington for the years 2009-2012, the Seattle District Office has supported 162 Patriot Express Loans for $17,129,600.
Do you know a veteran? Make sure to introduce them to the SBA because we have programs designed for Veterans, Service-Disabled Veterans, Reserve Members, and their spouses. Contact the Seattle District Office at 206-553-7310 the Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) in Seattle at 206-324-4330 extension 139. The VBOC offers free counseling and technical assistance/training to more than 150,000 Veteran and Service-Disabled Veteran Small Business Owners. For more information, please visit: www.sba.gov/content/
Many veterans have innate entrepreneurial skill. We honor them on holidays and pay tribute to all American Veterans. The SBA wants to help veterans find a path which will lead to success in operating or owning a small business. For more information on SBA’s services and programs for veteran entrepreneurs, please visit www.sba.gov/vets.
Thanks to all who wear, or have worn, the uniform of the United States Armed Forces. We’re a safer nation because of you.