October 25, 2011

A Chance for the Men and Women Who Wear the Uniform

By Senator Lena C. Taylor

The unemployment rate for veterans is higher than the general population both nationally and in Wisconsin. The withdrawal of 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year will bring more soldiers home seeking employment.

Due in part to a growing national movement to put veteran-owned firms on par with minority- and women-owned businesses when it comes to competing for contracts, opportunities for veterans are growing in the public and private sectors. Increasingly, corporations and state and local governments have set procurement goals or mandates for working with companies owned by veterans. The movement to offer preferred status to veteran-owned firms has been growing since 1999, when the federal government set a 3 percent goal for doing business with small firms owned by service-disabled veterans.

As a state, as a county, and as a city, we need to care for our veterans because they care for us. According to statistics released by the Census Bureau this past spring, there are 2.4 million veteran-owned firms throughout the country, accounting for 9 percent of all businesses, with 5.8 million employees and $1.2 trillion in sales.

Veteran Entrepreneurial Transfer, Inc. (VETransfer.org), which has offices on West Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee, is dedicated to helping veteran-owned companies start or expand their businesses. They also provide mentoring and assistance with executive management, marketing, finance, and legal. The founders of VETransfer have also formed Patriot Partners Fund Inc., which will provide capital funding to veteran-owned companies that present strong business plans.

Black unemployment is nearly double that of whites. The unemployment rate for black veterans is equally alarming at 14.7 percent. Milwaukee has almost 50% unemployment for men of color.  VETransfer is a tremendous resource precisely because it presents a way to address these statistics. It presents an opportunity to increase the number of black entrepreneurs and to increase the number of black veteran entrepreneurs.

For more information on VETransfer, call (414) 502-8387, email info@vetransfer.org, or visit their website at vetransfer.org. Imagine cutting your own paycheck, scheduling your own hours and owning your own business. That is the American Dream! VETransfer offers the tools needed to make the dream a reality.