Look around. They’re everywhere.
The accountant who did your taxes, the police officer who helped change your tire, and the guy who owns the ice cream shop down the street.
United States military veterans face the daunting task of adjusting to civilian life when leaving the armed forces. The Small Business Administration (SBA) helps them make that transition with events across the country. These events educate veteran entrepreneurs and provide them networking opportunities to help start and grow their business.
Last week, the SBA branch in Syracuse hosted “Operation: Start Up & Grow.” The six-hour event, taking place at the SRC Arena on the Onondaga Community College (OCC) campus, attracted local businesses to assist visiting veterans from all over the state. It featured amazing keynote speakers, individual learning sessions, and plenty of time to network with exhibitors.
Gordon Logan, founder and CEO of Sports Clips Haircuts presented his insight to attendees. He jokingly hinted that he had no idea he would ever be in the beauty industry, but it’s simply where his post-military life took him. Logan credited the Air Force with giving him the skills and mindset to be able to accomplish anything he wanted – this coming from an MIT graduate.
Barbara Carson serves as the Associate Administrator for the SBA Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD). She encouraged attendees to take advantage of everything at the event as much as possible. Educating veterans of all the help they can receive, along with a bevy of other tasks, accounts for Carson’s civilian job. She also is currently a Colonel in the Air Force.
Herbert Dwyer, a Marine Corps veteran, holds the titles of President and CEO of ASI Energy. He took part in a fireside-like interview and answered various questions dealing with his military service, his entrepreneurial success and everything in between. Dwyer credited the SBA with assisting him throughout his journey.
Mike Haynie, the Vice Chancellor at Syracuse University, spoke briefly about the importance of veterans in our community and economy. His resume – consisting of Air Force service and a Ph.D. in Entrepreneurship from the University of Colorado – made him a perfect candidate to provide insight at the event.
Our co-founder and CEO Brian Bluff, winner of the 2016 Veteran-Owned Business Achievement (VOBA) Award (read more here), provided his expertise to aspiring veteran business owners in three separate 15-minute sessions.
“The vets I met during the consulting sessions were all such impressive people and clearly had a lot of drive,” Bluff said. “It made me proud, and I was happy to help.”
Bluff also commented on the growth of the event, noticing the difference from when he was a keynote speaker in 2012. A record 73 exhibitors were present. He was very impressed with the SRC Arena set up and said that, along with a well-schedule regime, made the day go very smoothly.
Bluff was quick to acknowledge the role the SBA has played in Site-Seeker’s success. That included assistance through their loan program and also including him in the 2012 Emerging Leaders Initiative, formerly known as the e200 course.
So, to all United States military veterans: thank you for your service and please remember that there are plenty of people – fellow vets like Brian Bluff, Gordon Logan, Barbara Carson and everyone at the SBA – who are willing to help you navigate your way to entrepreneurial success.