VBOCs are an initiative funded and managed by the US Small Business Administration (SBA). The offices and their services offered, which are free to use, are designed to provide a broad variety of business tools to current and former military members who have entrepreneurial aspirations, including minority as well as female veterans. Find a Veteran Business Outreach Center near you below, and find how they can help minority and female veterans.
The centers focus on providing free training, mentoring and counseling. They also help disadvantaged veterans, such as Black, Latino, Asian, and women access capital for their startup company or existing small business. The idea is to provide any veteran with any sort of business idea with whatever tools they need to achieve it, from complete newcomers to current small business owners looking to grow and expand. An example of services provided by the various VBOCs include the following:
-Pre-business planning workshops.
-One-on-one assessments of business ideas.
-Business plan assistance.
-Assistance for veterans in finding and applying for small business grants or loans, with a focus on minority and funds for females. Find a list of free government small business grants.
-Ongoing mentorship as a business is established.
-Special training and counseling opportunities for service-disabled vets.
-Hosting classes and presentations.
-There are also free tips for small businesses.
VBOCs do not directly provide financing, but can educate veterans about the various options that are available and what the best approach will be. Staff can help veterans apply for funds, direct them to government programs or charities, and assist with general financing needs.
Who Can Access A VBOC?
In addition to former military members, all active duty personnel are welcome at VBOCs including disabled veterans. One does not necessarily need to have veteran status; just about anyone who ever wore the uniform can make use of a VBOCs services. They also do not discriminate based race, age, or ethnicity, and Blacks, Latino, LGBTQ and other minorities can use the free Veteran Business Centers as well. Military spouses and children are also eligible.
To register, simply visit vboc.org and follow the signup steps.
What Kind Of Free Minority and Women Veteran Programs Do VBOCs Offer?
Many! In addition to the general services described above that can be helpful to any veteran looking to start a business, there are dozens of programs and initiatives that are targeted to particular veteran demographics: those with service-connected disabilities, women, Black and Latino veterans who are a disproportionate percentage of service members, Reserve and National Guard members, spouses of military members and more.
If it seems like too many unfamiliar options, Boots To Business is generally a good place to start. This program is for any and all types of veterans looking to start any sort of small business or startup company; as the name indicates, it assumes the participant is fresh out of the military and does not necessarily have any relevant experience with business setup or financing. The main Boots To Business program is for service members who are recently departed from the military, but there is an alternate version called Boots To Business Reboot that is available to vets and family members who have been out of the service for some time. The content of each program is the same, consisting of a series of classes (conducted online during the pandemic) that give participants a condensed but thorough business education.
Those who are interested in getting into federal procurement (running businesses that focus on serving government agencies) might want to go straight to the Veteran Institute of Procurement. This series of classes awards those who complete it with a certification that can help to secure government contracts. As the federal government will try to allocate contracts to female and minority owned (or founded) companies, There are three different sets of classes: VIP START for those new to procurement, VIP GROW for vets who already have businesses that compete for government contracts, and VIP INTERNATIONAL for those specifically focused on opportunities overseas.
And if you already have a small business of another type and are looking for ways to grow, the Veteran-Owned Small Business Growth Training Program provides free one-on-one counseling from a mentor. This program requires you to have been in business for at least one year and have annual revenue of at least $75,000.
VBOC Programs for Service-Disabled Veterans
Service-disabled veterans (and spouses) can take advantage of certain assistance programs as well. One of them is the Dog Tag Inc. Fellowship Program, a series of courses that runs twice per year. This is a professional development course with a focus on entrepreneurial thinking, targeted to those who have little prior business experience. A similar program, The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans, is available to post-9/11 disabled vets, whether minorities or women.
Though the VA usually does not offer loans or financial assistance to veteran businesses, it does have one program (Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment) that can potentially assist severely disabled veterans with setting up a home-based business when their circumstances make traditional employment arrangements too difficult. This can be a great source of funding for sole-proprietor run minority and female veteran business owners.
VBOC Programs for Women Veterans
The Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) program is held in various places around the country and provides women veterans, including those of color, with a mix of free online and in-person courses designed to impart a foundational entrepreneurial skill set. The courses are mostly online, concluding with a three-day event held in various major cities around the country at different times during the year. Those who complete the program also have access to ongoing mentoring.
Women veterans may also be interested in the free LiftFund Women’s Business Center, which is like an additional VBOC location targeted specifically to their needs. In addition to workshops and personal business counseling, this location hosts business accelerator events and helps its members connect to local resources. There is also information on resources such as crowdfunding for women owned businesses.
VBOC Programs for Reserve and National Guard Members
A special type of loan is available to Reserve and National Guard personnel that own small businesses and have experienced some loss of income from them due to being called up to active duty service. The Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan (MREIDL) can provide up to $2 million in funding, based on estimated economic injury. There is a fixed interest rate of 4% and repayment terms can be up to 30 years.
There is also additional help for reserve and national guard members. They too can use the free small business centers. Many females are also part of the reserve, as our minorities, and all the loans and assistance is free to them as well.
Where Can I Find A VBOC?
There are currently 22 VBOCs spread around the United States, each meant to cover a particular geographical region. Female and minority business owners can find VBOCs in the following. Search for your state below.
Arsenal Business and Technology Partnership provides free business advice to veterans (including women and minorities) is a wide region. Whether information on online companies, financing, budgeting, or government grants, they support the states of New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands from 44 Dalliba Ave, Watervliet, NY 12189. Call (518) 326-6328.
SoCal Veterans Business Outreach Center is for southern California. Asians, Latinos, and veterans looking into tech companies (or owners) tend to get assistance. Address is 2075 Las Palmas Dr, Carlsbad, CA 92011. Call (760) 795-8739 for information.
Veterans Business Outreach Center for Florida at Gulf Coast State College is for the entire state of Florida. Office is at 5230 US Hwy 98, Panama City, FL 32401. Dial toll free (800) 542-7232. Information on raising capital, crowdfunding, retail or restaurants sales, and thousands of business topics are covered for free.
Veterans Business Outreach Center of New England is located at 132 George M Cohan Blvd, 2nd Fl, Providence, RI 02903. Services are offered in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Dial Telephone: (401) 277-0800.
Old Dominion University Veterans Business Outreach Center is for Virginia as well as West Virginia. Many veterans live in Virginia, including minority and women, and many start companies or become entrepreneurs. Location is 112 Bank Street, Norfolk, VA, 23510. Call 757-683-4793 or 757-683-5505.
Community Business Partnership is for District of Columbia, Maryland, Northern Virginia, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. Counseling and advice is from 6564 Loisdale Court, Suite 600, Springfield, VA 22150. Call (703) 768-1440.
The Veteran VBOC at Fayetteville State University is for the thousands of veterans in central and throughout North Carolina. A number of Black and Latino veterans have used this center for free advice. Office location is 1200 Murchison Rd, Fayetteville, NC 28301. Phone (910) 672-2683.
VBOC at Pathway Lending. Phone – 615.425.7171 for information on loans, grants, mentoring, and other services. The location is 201 Venture Circle, Nashville, TN 37228, and they help veterans in Kentucky and Tennessee.
Veterans Business Outreach Center at Mississippi State University is for the states of Alabama, Louisiana, as well as Mississippi. Veterans, and disadvantaged community members, can get assistance from 40 Old Main, Suite 200, Starkville, MS 39759. Dial (662) 325-4990.
VECTR Center (Veterans Education Career Transition Resource Center – CGTC) assists small business owners and startups in Georgia and South Carolina. Main address is 1001 S. Armed Forces Blvd., Warner Robins, GA 31088. Veterans, or their families, can call 1-833-448-3287.
VetBiz Central, Inc. assists veterans (male, disabled, women, minorities, etc.) in the central part of the country, including Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. Learn about funding or financing, get marketing help, technical assistance and more. Address is 1401 East Court Street, Flint Michigan 48503. Call (810) 767-8387.
Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC) focuses on female veterans who start or owned a business. Assistance is for the states of Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Office address is 1533 N Rivercenter Dr, Milwaukee, WI 53212. Dial (414) 395-4566.
VBOC at University of Texas Rio Grande Valley assists small business owners, sole-proprietors, and startup companies in Central, West and Southern Texas. Location is 1407 E Freddy Gonzalez Dr, Ste 1200, Edinburg, TX 78539. Call (956) 665-8931.
Veterans Business Outreach Center at University of Texas Arlington College of Business assists women, male, and minority veterans in a wide region, including Arkansas, Northern Texas, as well as Oklahoma. Location is 701 S West St, Ste 635, Arlington, TX 76019. Or dial (817) 272-6789.
New Mexico and Colorado Veterans Business Outreach Center. Main office is at 201 Eagle Rock Ave NE, Ste 2A, Albuquerque, NM 87113. For services, call (505) 383-2401.
Veterans Business Resource Center assists residents of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and also Nebraska. Veterans can go to multiple offices, including at 911 Washington Ave, St. Louis, MO 63101 or 2700 N 14th St, St. Louis, MO 63106. Technical help, assistance building online businesses, tips in helping Black or minority veterans in getting small business loans and other help is offered. The last office is at 1000 Walnut 5th Floor, Kansas City, MO 64101. Dial 314) 531-8387.
VBOC IX is a non-profit Veteran business center. Asians, Latinos, and veterans looking into tech companies (or owners) tend to get assistance. The location covers Nevada as well as Northern California from 3831 N. Freeway Suite 106, Sacramento, CA 95834. Phone (916) 527-8400.
A New Leaf, Inc. – AWEEc also offers Spanish assistance. Small business owners, immigrants and Latinos (who are starting many companies in the region) can get help. Information on grants, funding, mentoring, technical help and more. It is for all of Arizona. Address is 750 E Bartow Dr., Suite 9, Sierra Vista, AZ 85635. Call (480) 322-4634.
Veterans Business Outreach Center of the Pacific helps families and individuals and residents in American Samoa, Guam, Hawaii. Location is 2800 Woodlawn Dr, Ste 146, Honolulu, HI 96822. Phone (808) 988-1236.
Business Impact NW has an office for free information. Use a computer lab, veterans including minorities and women can get help creating a business plan, details on charitable or non-profit funding, and other advice. Office address is 1437 S Jackson St, Seattle, WA 98144. Telephone: (206) 324-4330, ext.136.
Big Sky Economic Development Authority covers Montana, Utah, and Wyoming. Main office 222 N 32nd St, Ste 200, Billings, MT 59101. Main phone (406) 869-8411.
University of North Dakota (UND) helps veterans in both North and South Dakota. Stop by 4200 James Ray Dr., Room 203, Stop 8372, Grand Forks, ND 58202, or dial (701) 777-3700 for information.
By Jon McNamara