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Business Loan and Grants

Veteran Owned Businesses

Here you will find resources to help veterans start their own businesses and locate government contracting opportunities.

Small Business Assistance for Veterans

  • Veterans Business Development Guide
    Training, counseling and assistance to veteran and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses.

  • VetBiz.gov - Veterans in Business Portal
    Help for veteran entrepreneurs who want to start and expand their businesses in the federal and private marketplaces.

  • VeteransCorp.org - Entrepreneurial Guidance for Veterans
    Provides veterans with a guide to starting, managing, and growing a business.

  • National Veteran Small Business Conference & Expo
    Annual conference focused on veteran small businesses and federal procurement opportunities.

  • The 5th Annual National Veteran Small Business Conference and Expo will take place July 20-23, 2009, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada.

    This conference will bring together business owners, both small and large, and Federal Government representatives to share best practices of how to do business together. The conference will also include sessions on Federal Contracting for small businesses that are just breaking into the public sector.

    The comprehensive conference agenda will include sessions that take attendees through the life cycle of small business Federal contracting. General sessions and breakouts will be led by small business owners as well as representatives from various Federal Agencies. Topics will include:

    • Contracting 101 and 201
    • Marketing and selling to the Federal Government
    • Legislation affecting small businesses
    • Legal issues with Government contracting
    • Managing small business finances
    • Successful business strategies
    • Subcontracting
    • And more!

    This conference is an ideal mix of learning and networking opportunities. Registration is limited so early registration is highly encouraged.

    The conference is open to both government and non-government personnel.


    The dress code for this event is business casual. Meeting room temperatures vary widely as do personal comfort levels. Participants may wish to bring a sweater.

  • Business Resources for Disabled People
    Info about starting, financing and running a small business aimed at disabled persons, including service disabled veterans.

  • Entrepreneur Resources for People with Disabilities
    Information, resources and technical assistance to expand opportunities for self-employment and small business.
  • Self-employment and small business are important avenues for people with disabilities to secure employment. These options can assist people with disabilities to achieve economic independence
  • Important Considerations for Entrepreneurs with Disabilities
    Discusses important considerations for potential entrepreneurs with disabilities.

    With more than one million new businesses each year, America’s economy depends on small businesses for its vitality and growth. According to the 1997 report of the U.S. Census Bureau, the nation’s 17 million small, non-farm businesses constituted 99.7 per cent of all employers, employed 52 percent of private workforce and accounted for 51 percent of the nation’s sales. Small business-dominated industries provided 11.1 million new jobs between 1994 and 1998, virtually all of the new jobs created during that time period. Small businesses are most likely to generate jobs for young workers, older workers and women, provide 67 percent of first jobs and produce 55 percent of innovations.

    Thousands of people with disabilities have been successful as small business owners. The 1990 national census revealed that people with disabilities have a higher rate of self-employment and small business experience (12.2 percent) than people without disabilities (7.8 percent). The Disabled Businessman’s Association estimates that 40 percent of home-based businesses are operated by people with disabilities.

    The University of Montana Research and Training Center on Rural Issues for People with Disabilities has documented that entrepreneurs with disabilities have successfully operated a wide variety of businesses: Accounting Services, Air Conditioner Repair Service, Auction Service, Auto Body Repair Shop, Bakery, Bicycle Shop, Boat Making Shop, Child Care Service, Chiropractic Practice, Contract Services, Counseling Service, Farming, Janitorial/Maintenance Service, Piano Refinishing Service, Real Estate Office, Restaurant, Free-lance Writing, Used Clothing Store, Weed Abatement Service and Welding Shop. The type of business that a person with a disability can operate is limited only by imagination.

    Small Business Characteristics

    Although the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) establishes industry-specific definitions, it generally considers any business with fewer than 500 employees, including self-employed individuals, to be a small business. The Federal Reserve Board’s report, “National Survey of Small Business Finances (1995),” found that small businesses were home-based 53 percent of the time. Twenty-four percent of all new businesses in 1993 began with no outside financing. The remaining 76 percent received funding from traditional sources, such as banks, credit unions, and finance companies, or from family members or credit card advances.

    Although many people believe that 80 percent of all small businesses fail within five years, statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau reveal a different story. The Census Bureau reports that 76 percent of all small businesses operating in 1992 were still in business in 1996. In fact, only 17 percent of all small businesses that closed in 1997 were reported as bankruptcies or other failures. The other terminations occurred because the business was sold or incorporated or when the owner retired.

    Important Considerations for All Potential Entrepreneurs

    The SBA advises anyone thinking about starting a business to ask themselves several questions before going forward.

    • Am I a self starter?
    • How well do I get along with a variety of personalities?
    • How good am I at making decisions?
    • Do I have the physical and emotional stamina to run a business?
    • How well do I plan and organize?
    • Are my attitudes and drive strong enough to maintain motivation?
    • How will the business affect my family?

    Important Considerations for Potential Entrepreneurs with Disabilities

    Self-employment offers many benefits for people with disabilities:

    • The freedom, flexibility and independence that come from working for oneself
    • The opportunity to work in a disability-friendly environment
    • The ability to reduce the need for transportation
    • The ability to accommodate changing functional levels
    • The ability to create an accessible work environment
    • Individuals with disabilities who receive income support, such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability payments, can increase their income while staying within the income and asset requirements of those programs.

    But anyone considering entrepreneurship must also be aware of the challenges involved in starting a business. There remains an array of obstacles ranging from attitudinal barriers to lack of coordination among Federal programs:

    • The possible loss of cash benefits from SSDI or SSI disability programs
    • The possible loss of health care benefits such as Medicare or Medicaid
    • The inability to get credit because of poor credit ratings
    • The lack of assets to use as collateral
    • The lack of access to programs promoting self-employment and small business development
    • Government disability programs that overlook entrepreneurship as an avenue from the public rolls to self-sufficiency.

    The 1999 passage of the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act addresses some, but not all, of these issues.

    Resources for Entrepreneurs with Disabilities

    • If you have a disability and are considering starting your own business, contact the Office of Disability Employment Policy’s new Small Business Self-Employment Service (SBSES) for information. The SBSES World Wide Web site, < janweb.icdi.wvu.edu/sbses >, includes links to other entrepreneurship sites,including the SBA and state vocational rehabilitation programs. It also provides information on a variety of other technical assistance resources for writing business plans, financing, and other issues specific to developing a small business.

      Individual assistance is available at 800-526-7234 or 800-232-9675 (V/TTY).

    • Whether you are starting a new business or expanding an established business, the SBA has a variety of programs to assist you. Free one-on-one counseling is available locally to help entrepreneurs and potential entrepreneurs in the areas of planning, financing, management, technology, government procurement, and other business related areas.

      The SBA’s Answer Desk is a national toll-free telephone service which provides information to the public on small business problems and concerns. This service provides general information about SBA programs and other programs available to assist the small business community.

      Business Information Assistants are available to speak directly with callers between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (East Coast Time) by calling the Answer Desk at 800-UASK-SBA (800-827-5722). Outside of these hours, callers may hear a recording of the information 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Write to this service at: 200 North College Street, Suite A-2015, Charlotte, North Carolina, 28202 or send your questions via e-mail at < answerdesk@sba.gov >.

    • The Office of Disability Employment Policy has initiated a range of activities with other Federal agencies to ensure that Federal employment programs for people with disabilities will promote small business ownership as a career option, and that potential entrepreneurs with disabilities know about the process and resources for starting a business. Information on these programs can be obtained from the Office of Disability Employment Policy’s web site at < www.dol.gov/odep >.
  • Online Seminar: Self-Employment for Individuals with Disabilities
    Introduces some of the critical factors in considering business feasibility, developing financial resources, basic business plan development, and the identification and access to community small business resources.
  • Small Business and Self-Employment Service
    Provides information, counseling, and referrals about self-employment and small business ownership opportunities for people with disabilities.
    Self-employment information and resources for individuals with disabilities.
  • State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies
    Learn about programs that help people with disabilities become employed, including self-employment.
  • Ticket to Work Program
    This connects social security disability insurance and supplemental security income beneficiaries with employment networks for training and other support services needed to achieve their employment goals, including self-employment.

Financing a Business

Federal and state government agencies do not provide grants to veterans for starting a business. However, there are a number of low-interest loan programs that help veterans obtain startup financing. The following loan progams are specifically for veterans and members of the military community. Visit the Loans and Grants Search Tool to get a full list of grant, loan, and venture capital programs for which you might qualify.

  • Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan
    This loan program provides funds to eligible small businesses to meet its ordinary and necessary operating expenses that it could have met, but is unable to meet, because an essential employee was "called-up" to active duty in their role as a military reservist.

    The Filing Period for small businesses to apply for economic injury loan assistance begins on the date the essential employee receives a notice of expected call-up and ends 1 year after the essential employee is discharged or released from active duty.

    (NOTE: This program applies to military conflicts occurring or ending on or after March 24, 1999)

    The purpose of the Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (MREIDL) is to provide funds to eligible small businesses to meet its ordinary and necessary operating expenses that it could have met, but is unable to meet, because an essential employee was "called-up" to active duty in their role as a military reservist. These loans are intended only to provide the amount of working capital needed by a small business to pay its necessary obligations as they mature until operations return to normal after the essential employee is released from active military duty. The purpose of these loans is not to cover lost income or lost profits. MREIDL funds cannot be used to take the place of regular commercial debt, to refinance long-term debt or to expand the business.

    Federal law requires SBA to determine whether credit in an amount needed to accomplish full recovery is available from non-government sources without creating an undue financial hardship to the applicant. The law calls this credit available elsewhere. Generally, SBA determines that over 90% of disaster loan applicants do not have sufficient financial resources to recover without the assistance of the Federal government. Because the Military Reservist economic injury loans are taxpayer subsidized, Congress intended that applicants with the financial capacity to fund their own recovery should do so and therefore are not eligible for MREIDL assistance.

    Credit Requirements: SBA's assistance is in the form of loans, as such SBA must have a reasonable assurance that such loans can and will be repaid.

    Collateral Requirements: Collateral is required for all MREIDLs over $50,000. SBA takes real estate as collateral when it is available. SBA will not decline a loan for lack of collateral, but SBA will require the borrower to pledge collateral that is available.

    Interest Rate: The interest rate is 4.000%

    Loan Term: The law authorizes loan terms up to a maximum of 30 years. SBA determines the term of each loan in accordance with the borrower's ability to repay. Based on the financial circumstances of each borrower, SBA determines an appropriate installment payment amount, which in turn determines the actual term.

    Loan Amount Limit - $2,000,000: The actual amount of each loan, up to this maximum, is limited to the actual economic injury as calculated by SBA, not compensated by business interruption insurance or otherwise, and beyond the ability of the business and/or its owners to provide. If a business is a major source of employment, SBA has authority to waive the $2,000,000 statutory limit.

    Insurance Requirements: To protect each borrower and the Agency, SBA requires borrowers to obtain and maintain appropriate insurance. Borrowers of all secured loans (over $50,000) must purchase and maintain hazard insurance for the life of the loan on the collateral property. By law, borrowers whose collateral property is located in a special flood hazard area must also purchase and maintain flood insurance for the full insurable value of the property for the life of the loan.

  • Employ Illinois - Military Reserve Loan
    These loans are available to active reserve military, and provide low-interest access to capital to hire employees, make capital improvements or pursue other avenues that will lead to business survival.

    Serving in the Armed Forces takes sacrifice, but it shouldn’t mean the end of your small business. That’s why the Treasurer’s Office offers economic hardship loans to active duty Reserve Forces (National Guard and Reserves) whose businesses may suffer during their deployments or training.

    Employ Illinois loans provide low-interest access to capital to hire employees, make capital improvements or pursue other avenues that will lead to business survival.

    The Treasurer’s Office is proud to offer Employ Illinois loans to service members of Illinois.

    Please contact our office for more information about the loan possibilities for your business by e-mailing employillinois@treasurer.state.il.us or call (312) 814-8953.

    Amounts and Terms:

    • Borrowers can receive loans for up to $250,000.
    • The below-market interest rate is available for two years with the possibilty of a
      three-year extension.
    • The Treasurer's Office may require a site visit prior to approval.

    Interest Rates:

    • The listed rates are posted to give potential borrowers an indication of current rate figures. The final deposit rate is determined on the business day prior to issuing the loan.
    • Lenders are allowed to mark up the loan by 3 percent.

    Program Eligibility:

    • The applicant must be either the owner or an essential employee of the business.
    • The applicant must provide a copy of their state or federal activation orders, and the activation must be for at least 90 consecutive days.
    • The applicant must show anticipated hardship expected as a result of their activation. Applicants can apply upon receiving their orders before any loss actually occurs or while they are activated.
    • The applicant must provide a brief explanation as to why conventional loan financing is
      not adequate and why an Employ Illinois loan is necessary.

    How to Apply:

    1. Contact the Treasurer’s Office for an overview of the program.
    2. Apply for a loan at a participating financial institution and agree to use the Employ Illinois program.
    3. Complete the Reserve Forces loan application and forward your application package, including all required documentation, to the Treasurer’s Office.
      Often times, your financial institution will provide the application and forward it on your behalf.
    4. Your financial institution must submit a completed application for deposit. Please contact the Treasurer's Office before completing this application. The contact information is listed on the application.
    5. The Treasurer's Loan Committee will review your application for approval. The committee meets twice monthly.

    If you have questions or need more information, e-mail employillinois@treasurer.state.il.us or
    call (312) 814-8953.

    Program History:

    • The Treasurer’s Office began offering the Reserve Forces program in the fall of 2007 at the request of
      then-Veterans' Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth.

    "Many of our service men and women are being deployed a number of times and usually for an extensive length of time," then-Director Duckworth said. "This is difficult not only emotionally and physically, but financially, especially if the service member owns their own business. We need to help these service members and their families by making sure they have the opportunity to continue to run their businesses successfully. I applaud Treasurer Giannoulias for his efforts with this new program, providing low-interest loans to our service members."

  • Wisconsin Dept of Veteran Affairs - Personal Loan Program
    Veterans who meet military service and state residency requirements may apply the proceeds to starting or expanding a small business.

Government Contracting

  • Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses : Contracting Guidance
    Info to help service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses do business with the federal government.

  • An order signed by President George W. Bush on October 20, 2004, directs all federal agencies to implement Executive Order 13360. The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) created the 21 Gun Salute initiative to help provide more opportunities in federal contracting for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSBs). The following graphic illustrates how GSA plans to meet and exceed the 3 percent procurement goal for SDVOSBs as well as highlighting GSA’s role in helping other federal agencies reach their goal. [PDF - Word]  

    As a part of this initiative, an SDVOSB subcommittee has been formed to advise GSA's Small Business Advisory Committee (SBAC) to improve and advance the opportunities of SDVOSBs.  This committee met for the first time on January 13, 2009. The agenda and minutes of that meeting can be found here.

    Expanding business opportunities is one important way to honor the men and women who, throughout history, have served proudly and courageously in our Armed Forces, placing their personal safety and ambitions second to protecting our country, preserving American ideals, and fighting the enemies of freedom.

    Thank you for your interest in the 21 Gun Salute.

Employing Veterans - Info for Employers

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