The Convergence of Economic Development and Veteran Entrepreneurship

Economic development organizations that target support and services toward veteran entrepreneurship yield sustainable economic growth in terms of higher returns, an increased tax base, job creation, job retention and business expansion. Harnessing veteran entrepreneurship strategies to economic development strategies anchors and enhances both quality of life and quality of place–especially in those communities with high concentrations of veterans per capita.

It has been said that small business is America’s life blood. If that is true, then the veteran-owned small business must certainly be its heartbeat. The very soul of what we have always meant by “American Made” is exemplified by the soldier, marine, airman, seaman or guardsman who anchors freedom in the homeland and abroad, only to transition home to anchor jobs and free enterprise in the local economy through small business ownership and entrepreneurship.

As Colonel Barb Carson (US SBA OVBD) reported to the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs earlier this year:

“As small business owners, veterans continue to serve our country by creating critical employment opportunities and driving economic growth. They possess the skills, discipline and leadership to start and operate successful businesses in their communities. In fact, veterans over-index in entrepreneurship and are at least 45% more likely than those with no active-duty military experience to be self-employed. Nearly one in every ten small businesses is veteran-owned. These businesses generate over $1.1 trillion in receipts annually and employ over 5 million Americans.”

On the ground, we, as economic developers assist entrepreneurs and small business owners with a toolkit of incentives to reduce or offset production costs, like:

  • Tax Incentive Systems
  • Debt-Financing Schemes
  • Infrastructure Investment
  • Labor Incentives
  • Tax Increment Financing
  • Targeted Economic Development
  • New Markets Tax Credits
  • Historic Tax Credits
  • Low Income Housing Tax Credits
  • Land and Site Development
  • Transfer of Development Rights
  • Business Incubation
  • Venture Capital

And, on the ground, we, as veteran small business development directors, managers and counselors layer those incentives with low interest loans, fee waivers, loan guarantees (SBA), and targeted counseling, consulting and training developed with the military family in mind, like that of Operation Boots to Business.

Veteran entrepreneurship practiced in an economic development context is a sustainable, cutting edge economic growth strategy that makes good, common, business sense.

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