WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship Chair Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and U.S. Small Business Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman today announced Maryland’s first Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) established through a grant awarded to the University of Maryland, College Park, which will operate the new center. The VBOC at the University of Maryland will provide services, training and other support across Maryland, as well as in the District of Columbia, Delaware, and Pennsylvania.
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. Senator Cardin has fought for more small business resources for veterans in Maryland and an expansion of SBA VBOC program. Most recently, he chaired a hearing to improve resources for service-disabled veteran federal contractors, as well as women and socially and economically disadvantaged contractors.
“Empowering more of our veterans with the tools they need to become successful small business owners will provide a boost to the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem across Maryland,” said Senator Cardin. “I thank SBA for this critical, timely investment that will increase Maryland’s capacity to service the region’s veterans and transitioning service members. Support for our service men and women must stay strong when they are uniform and when they transition to civilian life.”
“The military small business community – which includes entrepreneurs from active duty military, reserves, National Guard, veterans and military spouses – are a driving force in our nation’s economy. The SBA’s 22 Veterans Business Outreach Centers work hard to support these entrepreneurs, and give them the tools and support they need to live their American dream, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s important for our continued economic recovery and growth,” said Administrator Guzman. “The can-do spirit of our service men and women is the entrepreneurial spirit - the grit, determination and resilience it takes to start, grow and sustain a small business. At the SBA, we want our military entrepreneurs to know that we’re here to help them harness that spirit and use the skills and expertise they gained in the military to start, grow and sustain successful small businesses. We’re doing that work with this award to the University of Maryland. Our message to our nation’s military entrepreneurs is this: You invested in our country. Now, it’s our turn to invest in you.”
“We are very proud to be part of this initiative and to leverage the University of Maryland’s entrepreneurship resources and networks to help our region’s veterans and their spouses pursue their dreams and grow their businesses,” shared Julie Lenzer, Chief Innovation Officer at the University of Maryland.
The SBA 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.