Washington, D.C. – On the first day of National Veterans Small Business Week, U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship Chair Ben Cardin (D-Md.), U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, and University of Maryland (UMD) President Darryll Pines today celebrated the grand opening of Maryland’s first Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC), which was established through a 5-year SBA grant awarded to UMD. The VBOC will provide services, training and other support across Maryland, as well as in the District of Columbia, Delaware, and Pennsylvania.
“I am very proud to begin National Veterans Small Business Week by celebrating the opening of Maryland’s first VBOC,” said Senator Cardin. “This is a great day for Maryland, and I thank SBA for this investment, which will increase Maryland’s capacity to service the region’s veterans and transitioning service members. We’re not done yet. It is vital that Congress pass President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Budget as quickly as possible to invest in our small businesses and create jobs.”
“I was honored to join Senator Cardin at the grand opening of the Veterans Business Outreach Center at the University of Maryland,” said Administrator Guzman. “America’s service members, veterans, and military spouses represent the resiliency, determination, and fortitude that is the American entrepreneurial spirit. During National Veterans Small Business Week and throughout the year, SBA is proud to support our nation’s veterans as they seek opportunities through entrepreneurship and small business ownership.”
“I enthusiastically thank Senator Ben Cardin and SBA Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman—both true champions for veterans and small businesses—for joining us to launch the new Veterans Business Outreach Center in the heart of UMD's Discovery District,” said University of Maryland president Darryll J. Pines. “This center will provide resources to veterans, so they are afforded the chance to pursue the same American dream they have defended throughout their careers. We are honored to serve them.”
Maryland is home to nearly 400,000 veterans and 15 military bases, including the U.S. Naval Academy, the Aberdeen Proving Ground and Fort Detrick. In addition to its large veterans population, Maryland is also home to the highest concentration of women-owned businesses and the highest concentration of minority women-owned businesses in the country.
Bringing SBA resources to Maryland has long been a top priority for Cardin. The new VBOC at UMD joins the Small Business Development Center operated by the university. Maryland is also home to the Veterans Institute for Procurement, a public-private partnership between SBA and the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce. In May 2020, at Cardin’s urging, SBA awarded grants to create two new Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) in Baltimore and Salisbury, which along with the existing WBC in Rockville ensures that entrepreneurs in every community in Maryland has access to the program’s services.
The VBOC program is a national network of twenty-two locations around the country serving as a one-stop shop for transitioning or active duty service members, veterans, National Guard or reserves, and military spouses. VBOCs provide the Boots to Business transition assistance program as well as business training and workshops, mentoring, government contracts guidance, and resource referrals.