As National Veterans Small Business Week came to a close, three Atlantic Region federal agencies are carrying on its mission with a new initiative to assist both Veterans transitioning to civilian life as well as their families through entrepreneurship and small business ownership.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), announced the regional pilot program at the VA Regional Benefits Office in Manhattan.
“Small businesses are crucial to our national and regional economies. With the drive and leadership skills necessary to start a successful business, it is not surprising that Veterans are an integral part of our growing small business landscape. The SBA is excited to work with our partners in government on this pilot initiative,” said SBA Regional Administrator Steve Bulger who oversees that Federal agency’s operations throughout the Atlantic Region of New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The U.S. General Services Administration manages over 22 million square feet of Federal government-owned and leased space in the Northeast and Caribbean Region 2. The Federal government agency provides the best value in real estate, acquisition and technology services as well as outstanding customer service in support of American taxpayers.
GSA’s Northeast and Caribbean Region Office of Small Business Utilization (OSBU) seeks to engage Veterans and service-disabled Veteran owned businesses, among others, in Federal contracting and procurement opportunities. Through OSBU, SBA promotes increased access to GSA’s nationwide procurement opportunities and engages in activities that make it possible for the small business community to meet key contracting experts and to receive counseling on the Federal procurement process.
“GSA Northeast and Caribbean Region’s Office of Small Business Utilization is uniquely positioned to support small business owners who are Service-Disabled Veterans through our various contract opportunities,” said GSA’s Region 2 Regional Administrator John A. Sarcone, III. “GSA is fortunate to be part of this valued collaborative Federal partnership with the SBA and VA to assist our brave men and women who have served our country admirably and have returned home to sustain and grow businesses.”
Regional Administrators Sarcone and Bulger also unveiled the GSA’s new promotional video inviting Veterans to consider connecting their small businesses with GSA contracts.
Veteran and Service Disabled Veteran entrepreneurs have two programs in which they can participate in for Federal contracting opportunities, given the authority by Congress for set aside acquisitions and exclusive competition among Veteran-Owned Small Businesses:
- The government-wide Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business Concern Program, in which companies/entrepreneurs are certified by the SBA; and
- The VA’s Veterans First Contracting Program
Federal agencies have a Congressional mandate to award at least 3% of all contracting dollars to Veteran- and Service-disabled Veteran-owned small businesses each year. In fact, every Federal government purchase between $10,000 and $250,000 is automatically set aside for small businesses, as long as there are at least two companies that can provide the product or service at a fair and reasonable price.
The SBA continuously provides entrepreneurial development services such as business training, counseling and resource partner referrals to transitioning service members, Veterans, National Guard & Reserve members and military spouses interested in starting or growing a small business. The agency’s Veterans Business Outreach Centers can work one-on-one with Veteran entrepreneurs as well as service-disabled Veterans, reservists, active-duty service members, transitioning service members, and their dependents or survivors at any point in the business life-cycle, especially pre-business planning, concept assessment, business plan preparation, comprehensive feasibility analysis, entrepreneurial training and counseling and other business development related services.
VBA’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program (VR&E) meets with service-connected disabled Veterans who are seeking re-entry into the civilian workforce through traditional and/or self-employment. At the VA Regional Office in New York, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors speak with, on average, 100 Veterans each month regarding the VR&E program and potential avenues to employment.
According to New York Regional Benefits Office Executive Director Sue Malley, “this initiative fits perfectly with VBA’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program’s Self-Employment track. For disabled Veterans interested in self-employment this partnership provides an opportunity to gain assistance with small business development in areas where there is currently a market with GSA.”