By Debbie Gregory.
The U.S. House of Representatives recently approved H.R. 1694, the Fairness to Veterans for Infrastructure Investment Act. The legislation would include veterans in the Department of Transportation’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program and would provide parity for the nearly 1 million veterans who are small business owners seeking government contracts. This would level the playing field in federal contracting for veteran-owned businesses by providing veterans access to existing preferences authorized for transportation projects.
Sponsored by Reps. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) and Don Young (R-Alaska), the legislation calls for states that receive federal money for transportation projects to included veteran-owned businesses in their contracting processes. They added that there are 380,000 construction firms that are owned by veterans in the U.S. that could help build projects across the nation.
Currently, only half of the states meet their DBE goals. Adding veteran small businesses to this program would increase the pool of eligible firms at the states’ disposal. For states that already meet their goals, this bill does not affect them or the small business contractors they employ.
“Our veterans are the most highly skilled workforce in America’s history – the product of rigorous training, an iron-clad commitment to teamwork and the remarkable ability to succeed where others might fail,” said Fitzpatrick. He continued. “We need Fairness to Veterans so we are leveraging the unique strengths of veteran entrepreneurs to address the challenges at home.”
“There’s no question that America’s veterans, who have sacrificed so much for the greater good, are able and ready to put their battle tested skills towards improving our nation’s roads, highways, and critical infrastructure projects,” said Young
The legislation now goes on to the Senate for consideration. The text of the bill is available on the Congress.gov website.
By Debbie Gregory.
President Obama recently signed an act that will encourage and equip veterans who want to start their own small businesses. To help navigate financial barriers, the new law waives the upfront guarantee fee for veterans applying for 7(a) express loans through the Small Business Administration (SBA), thus helping recently discharged service members and other veterans with opportunities to start new businesses.
With 21 million veterans living in the United States, the unemployment rate among this population is substantially higher than the national average. Because of this challenging statistic, more veterans are exploring self-employment opportunities.
The bill, introduced by House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH), has received praise from lenders and veterans alike.
“Our veterans are as entrepreneurial minded as anyone else in the world,” said Chabot. “Think about all that’s required to launch a new business: strategic planning, tactical expertise, dogged perseverance, and the ability to adjust plans to overcome new challenges at a moment’s notice. This is the American warfighter. Making sure they can access the resources needed to start their own business and build up the communities they’ve protected will do more than just create jobs – it will help them successfully transition into civilian life.”
Rich Bradshaw, President of Specialized Lending at United Community Bank, Blairsville, GA said, “As a lender, a veteran, and an Air Force Academy graduate, helping veterans make a life for themselves and their families once they return home from service is very personal to me. With more veterans returning to American soil, it is essential we do everything we can to bring down barriers to obtaining access to capital as they come back from doing everything they can to protect our country. Waiving fees for veteran 7(a) borrowers encourages them to open small businesses, create jobs, and boost the economy.”
According to the Small Business Administration, an estimated 10% of all small businesses across the US are veteran-owned.