As promised, it is now time for my interview with the Small Business Administration's John Renner. John really helps Veteran Owned Businesses!
How long have you been at the
SBA, and what is your official title?
I am in my 17th year at the
SBA's Cleveland District Office.
My title is Business Development Specialist. How does that translate to helping veterans in small business, and those wishing to get into a business of their own?
I am a generalist at the SBA, focused on making sure that all existing and prospective small businesses are aware of the variety of programs offered through the SBA. I am also the offices' Veterans Business Officer, a charge that I take very seriously. In that capacity, I work with many Veterans groups and Veterans who own businesses to insure that they are aware of specific benefits to businesses owned by Veterans and Service-disabled Veteran-Owned small businesses. Each SBA office across the country has a person who is designated as the Veterans Representative.
I understood you won an award for your work with veterans. Can you tell us about it?
I was honored this year to be chosen as the recipient of the Stanley Mageria award. Our Office of Veterans Business Development in Washington presents this award to "recognize a Veterans Business Development Officer who has provided exemplary business assistance and services to veteran, service-disabled veteran small business owners and self-employed members of the Reserve and National Guard." This award is the most fulfilling recognition I have received in my time with the agency.
In your experience, do veterans make good small business owners? If so, what sets them apart from other small business owners?
There is no doubt in my mind that Veterans make great entrepreneurs. Military experience teaches strong organizational skills, solid decision making processes and focuses on motivational issues. These are the same skills and characteristics that are needed for business success. An article that drives this point home can be found here http://www.inc.com/news/articles/200708/census.html
Would you please describe some of the programs available to help Vets obtain loans for their new businesses?
The SBA has a stable of loan guaranty programs that can address the majority of financing needs of small businesses. This summer we introduced a loan initiative called Patriot Express that is specifically targeted at:
Active-duty service member’s eligible for the Military’s Transition Assistance Program,
Reservists and National Guard members.
Current spouses of any of the above as well as spouses of active duty service personnel and, the widowed spouse of a service member or veteran who died during service or of a service-connected disability. Additional details of the Patriot Express Loan can be found at http://www.sba.gov/patriotexpress/. Of course, it is important to point out that all of our loans are bank loans with an SBA guaranty and the process always starts with a strong business plan and a relationship with a small business banker. The SBA has resource partners all over the country.
Outside of the financing
programs, we also assist small businesses who are interested in selling their
products and services to Federal agencies. There is currently a mandated
goal that all Federal agencies spend at
least 3% of their procurement budgets with service-connected disabled owned
small businesses. This creates a huge opportunity.
How is the SBA gearing up for the thousands of vets that will be returning from active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan?
The agency has recently taken a much more aggressive approach to assisting Veterans and the Patriot Express and procurement programs above are the first examples of what the SBA and the entire Federal community is doing to help create and build businesses owned by our Veterans.
Thank you, Joel, for your assistance in bringing this information to the public through your blog.