Through its Veterans’ Business Program (VBP), the SC SBDC supports transitioning service members considering the merits of owning a small business. While SC SBDC veteran-related initiatives are coordinated by Earl Gregorich, a business consultant with the Columbia Area SBDC, there are many knowledgeable consultants throughout the statewide network working daily to provide no-cost support services to the state’s veteran community. In fact, in a nationwide survey released by the Coalition for Veteran Owned Business, the SC SBDC’s support of veterans’ programs helped catapult South Carolina to the No. 1 spot when ranked by the percentage of veteran-owned businesses in a state.
Training: Workshops and Seminars In cooperation with the SBA, the VA and the National Guard, the SC SBDC administers the “Boots to Business/Reboot” accelerated training programs to provide entrepreneurial-minded veterans vital instruction on the fundamentals of launching and operating a small business. In 2016, hundreds of veterans attended at least one SC SBDC-sponsored workshop. The SC SBDC’s goal for 2017 is to offer approximately 25 classes for more than 300 attendees. We provide Boots to Business workshops to seven separate military bases in SC from the following four installations: Fort Jackson, Shaw Air Force Base, Marine Corps Air Station-Beaufort and Joint Base Charleston.
Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOB) Certification Program: Through the Vets First Verification Program, the Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE) verifies that a small business is legitimately owned and controlled by a veteran or service-disabled veteran (SDVOSB). An official VOSB/SDVOSB verification affords businesses a distinct advantage in that they are eligible to compete for sole source or “set-aside” contracts awarded by the federal government.
Currently, the SC SBDC has three VA Certified Verification Counselors trained by the VA Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) to provide no-cost assistance to companies as they undergo the five-stage verification process: Pre-Qualification, Intake, Pre-Application Review, Assessment, and Decision. Martin Goodman, SC SBDC USC region director, said he would like to increase the number of certified counselors to 10 by the end of 2017.
SBA Veterans’ Advantage Fee Relief Initiative (9/30/2017 Deadline Approaches): The September 30, 2017 deadline for the SBA’s Veterans’ Advantage Fee Relief initiative is fast approaching. This limited-time program, which offers “fee-relief” on small-dollar SBA guaranteed loans, encourages lenders to provide veteran-owned or controlled small businesses the capital they need to start, grow or expand their business. SC SBDC consultants further assist veterans by offering support services that help them become “lender-ready.”
In addition to the VBP programs/services listed above, the SC SBDC currently is developing a new training series designed specifically to help veterans with an established business take their company to the next level.