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vamboa grant

By Debbie Gregory.

As military members complete their tours of duty, re-establishing their careers may be one of the most important tasks in returning to civilian life. Some may be returning to careers that were interrupted during the time they served, but many are starting from scratch. Though the job market is showing some signs of improvement, it’s a slow rise, and those returning veterans are only adding to the many already vying for available jobs. This is one reason many veterans are coming home with aspirations of starting their own businesses.

Entrepreneurial endeavors may be the desired direction, but a good number of veterans express the difficulty acquiring their startup funds to be their biggest challenge. While most industry sectors have veteran business-owners, be it manufacturing, consulting or service industries, technology-related businesses appear to be increasingly popular for veteran entrepreneurs.

Banks are not as willing to establish loans for startup businesses. This leaves potential business owners needing to resort to other means to get their enterprises underway, be it self-funding, crowd-funding, or acquiring funds from friends, relatives, angel investors and venture capitalists. When those resources do not prove to be sufficient, an alternative is exploring government grants specifically for veterans in technology.

There are some stipulations. For example, while the federal government cannot provide grants to a business in the startup phase, it can provide grants for veteran-owned technology firms once established. Two in particular, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, average $2 billion in grants awarded each year. Administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the businesses most likely to be awarded grants from these programs fall into the small high-tech category, related to healthcare, education, public safety and criminal justice.

With numerous opportunities for gaining financial stability, and informational resources, such as those available through organizations like VAMBOA (Veteran and Military Business Owners’ Association), startups for veteran entrepreneurs are, indeed, attainable. Of the 28 million businesses in the U.S., approximately 2.4 million are veteran-owned, and this number is growing.

LINC tool

By Debbie Gregory.

This week, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that it will be launching an innovative tool on its website that will allow entrepreneurs looking for a small business loan to connect directly with an SBA lender.

The tool is called LINC, short for “Leveraging Information and Networks to access Capital.” By filling out a short online form, LINC connects entrepreneurs to lenders within 48 hours. The SBA hopes that through the utilization of LINC, the federal agency will be better able to provide guidance and ensure that more capital is reaching our nation’s small businesses.

“Effective today, LINC will bring entrepreneurs and SBA lenders together,” said SBA Administrator, Maria Contreras-Sweet.  She continued, “There’s a hunger among entrepreneurs to find financing to get their business off the ground or take the next big step in their expansion plan. The SBA stands there ready to help them, now with a few simple clicks.”

LINC users fill out a twenty-question online form, and their answers are sent to every lender in their county, as well as lenders with a regional or national reach. Once these lenders have reviewed the information, they respond directly to the entrepreneur within 48 hours. There are no fees and no commitment associated with LINC. It is a free federal initiative offered exclusively through the SBA

Contreras-Sweet went on to say, “Across the country, thousands of small business owners pound the pavement every day, looking for term loans, equipment financing, lines of credit, invoice financing, and real estate loans to help them hire and grow. If you have a bankable business idea backed by good credit and sound financial planning, the SBA wants to streamline the process for you to get the capital you need.”

It is the hope of the SBA that LINC will free entrepreneurs from feeling like their only lending option comes from one neighborhood bank. By using technology, LINC will help entrepreneurs get their foot in the door at multiple institutions, in one shot, and improve their access to the capital they need to start or maintain their small business.

Currently, there are 124 lenders across the nation participating in LINC. The SBA will look to expand into more traditional banking institutions that offer a more diverse menu of financial products.

For more information about LINC or to connect with SBA approved lenders, please visit https://www.sba.gov/tools/linc

The Veteran and Military Business Owners Association (VAMBOA) is a non-profit business trade association that promotes and assists Veteran Business Owners, Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses (SDVOB) and Military Business Owners. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and responsible for job generation. That is why VAMBOA provides its members with Business Coaching, Contracting Opportunities, a Blog that provides information, Networking contacts and other resources. Membership is FREE to Veterans. Join Now!

VAMBOA: SBA Launches Program Connecting Entrepreneurs to Lenders: By Debbie Gregory

VAMBOA Fresno Office WorkshopVeterans Small Business Week will be observed this year November 3-7, 2014. Many district offices of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will be holding events and seminars to mark the occasion.

California Veterans should be aware that the Fresno SBA District Office is offering a special workshop for Veterans and their spouses who are interested in starting a new small business or expanding their current business.

The workshop will be held on Wednesday, November 5, 2014 from 9am until noon, at the SBA Fresno District Office in Fresno, CA.

By attending the event, Veteran entrepreneurs can learn about the multitude of SBA programs, including programs for small loans on home-based businesses, to multi-million dollar loans for real estate and manufacturing. Participants will also receive education on the SBA loan programs created specifically for Veterans and their spouses. The information will be provided by an experienced SBA loan officer and a local SBA lender.

The Veterans Small Business Week workshop will also cover government contracting. Participants can learn how to become a certified Veteran Owned Small Business, and find out how obtaining this designation can provide their company with a significant edge over their competition when trying to win bids for federal, state, and local government contracts. This information will be provided by a fellow Veteran who is also a former Small Business Owner, and now the SBA Veteran Business Officer.

The event is free to Veterans and their spouses. Space is limited, so interested entrepreneurs must register in advance by calling William Hori at (559) 487-5791 or emailing fresno@sba.gov. Reasonable accommodations will be made for persons with disabilities, if requested at least one week in advance of the program by using the same contact information.

The Veteran and Military Business Owners Association (VAMBOA) is a non-profit business trade association that promotes and assists Veteran Business Owners, Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses (SDVOB) and Military Business Owners. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and responsible for job generation. That is why VAMBOA provides its members with Business Coaching, Contracting Opportunities, a Blog that provides information, Networking contacts and other resources. Membership is FREE to Veterans. Join Now!

VAMBOA: SBA Provides Special Veteran Workshop in CA: By Debbie Gregory

SBA extends loan programsRecently, the U.S Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that fee relief for small business loans made to Veterans will be extended through fiscal year 2015, and that programs for its Veterans Advantage program will be enhanced.

Last year, the SBA implemented its zero-fee loans for Veteran owned small businesses on 7(a) loans of $150,000 or less. This benefit was supposed to expire on September 30, 2014. The continuation of the loan relief was slated to extend from October 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015.

“We zeroed out fees on loans of less than $150,000 to any 7(a) borrower because we don’t want SBA fees to be an impediment to getting capital out to communities where it can make a game-changing difference, especially to our underserved communities, who use these small dollar loans more frequently,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet.  “We also owe a debt of gratitude and so much more to our service men and women, and veterans who are the cornerstone of small business ownership. This fee relief will continue to help veterans business owners who grow their businesses, create jobs in their communities, and put their training and passion for our country to work in their neighborhoods.”

As of the middle of September, the SBA had guaranteed more than 28,800 loans under $150,000 for a total of over $1.74 billion in FY 2014. These totals are up from FY 2013, when the SBA guaranteed $1.34 billion for 23,337 loans under $150,000.

For loans larger than $150,000, the SBA will continue to offer an annual servicing fee at 0.519% of the guaranteed portion of the outstanding balance of the loan. The upfront guarantee fee will continue to depend on both the amount and the maturity of the loan.

The SBA will also continue to offer zero upfront guaranty fee on all SBA Express loans to veterans, on loans of $150,000 up to $350,000 through FY2015.

One of the other enhancements that the SBA is implementing is the upfront guaranty fee for non “SBA Express” loans $150,000 up to $5 million, which will be reduced by 50%. There is no reduction on the annual servicing fee for loans over $150,000.

The SBA determined that 70% of its loans made to Veterans are $350,000 or less. In FY 2014, the SBA had guaranteed 153 loans for $38,861,900 through its Veterans Advantage program. Fee relief for these loans resulted in savings to borrowers of about $571,000.

For further information on all SBA programs and services, visit the SBA website at www.sba.gov, or contact your local SBA field office.

The Veteran and Military Business Owners Association (VAMBOA) is a non-profit business trade association that promotes and assists Veteran Business Owners, Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses (SDVOB) and Military Business Owners. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and responsible for job generation. That is why VAMBOA provides its members with Business Coaching, Contracting Opportunities, a Blog that provides information, Networking contacts and other resources. Membership is FREE to Veterans. Join Now!

VAMBOA: SBA Extends Loan Programs: By Debbie Gregory

SBA Georgia District Office

 The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Surety Bond Guarantee Program can help your small business get bonded!  Please join us if your small business has:

  •        Limited Financial Resources
  •        No Prior Bonded Work Experience
  •        Been in Business Less Than Three Years
  •        Desire to Increase its Current Bonding Capacity

Join us for an AT&T Connect Webinar discussing:

Contract Bonds

  • What they are and Why they are Required
  • How to Get Pre-Qualified
  • Working Capital & Bank Support

 SBA’s Surety Bond Guarantee Program

  • Program Eligibility
  • Required Information
  • Application Process & Fees

 Registration is required.  Please register online at http://events.sba.gov/eventmanagement/eventlisting.aspx?state=GA  Events are listed in date order

Date:                    Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Time:                    10:00 am – 11 am

Location:             VIRTUALLY 

Access:        https://connect16.uc.att.com/sba/meet/?ExEventID=87462470 (copy the link into your browser to attend).

Dial:            (888) 858-2144 & enter meeting code 7462470# to connect by phone.

Prepare in advance for the conference at: https://connect16.uc.att.com/sba/Prepare

For more information contact Ms. Melanie Bryant at 404/331-0100 ext 603 or melanie.bryant@sba.gov.