University of Maryland, College Park will be home to Maryland’s first Veterans Business Outreach Center. The center aims to be a one-stop shop for transitioning or active-duty service members and veterans, offering resources such as biz workshops, mentorship and government contracts guidance.
The Veterans Business Outreach Center at College Park will be one center in a system of 22 outreach centers across the country supported and funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the anchor institutions that house them.
“Empowering more of our veterans with the tools they need to become successful small business owners will provide a boost to the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem across Maryland,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, in a statement.
This center will be boon for Maryland’s nearly 400,000 veterans and 15 military bases, including the U.S. Naval Academy, the Aberdeen Proving Ground and Fort Detrick. This location of the VBOC system will also cover D.C., Delaware and Pennsylvania.
Transitioning or active duty service members, veterans, National Guard or reserves, and military spouses will all be eligible for support from the outreach centers.
“At the SBA, we want our military entrepreneurs to know that we’re here to help them harness that spirit and use the skills and expertise they gained in the military to start, grow and sustain successful small businesses,” said U.S. Small Business Administrator Isabella Guzman. “We’re doing that work with this award to the University of Maryland. Our message to our nation’s military entrepreneurs is this: You invested in our country. Now, it’s our turn to invest in you.”
In other veteran entrepreneur news: The SBA also launched the Veteran Federal Procurement Entrepreneurship Training Program via its Office of Veterans Business Development. A total of $500,000 is up for grabs to nonprofits and for-profit firms looking to offer federal procurement training to veteran and service-disabled veteran entrepreneurs. Apps are due by July 12 through the Grants.gov portal.
Donte Kirby is a 2020-2021 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.