Photo courtesy of USDA

Job-seeking veterans go green

With the jobless rate among young veterans topping 20 percent - twice the national average - recently discharged servicemembers are being encouraged to exercise creativity in their employment searches.

"The American Legion is actively and tangibly supporting veteran entrepreneurship," says Joe Sharpe, director of the Legion's Economic Division. "When established businesses aren't hiring," he says, "it only makes sense to create your own enterprise."

Sharpe notes that the character-building and discipline of military training goes a long way in equipping ambitious veterans for the challenges of starting and maintaining successful small businesses. The Legion stages several free-of-charge small business workshops every year to educate veterans about the intricacies of business planning and administration, but also encourages potential entrepreneurs to take advantage of industry-specific educational opportunities.

One such opportunity is the upcoming California Educational Symposium: An Examination of Demand vs. Feasibility and Viability. This exploration of one discipline within the rapidly emerging "green industry" is scheduled for Jan. 14, 2011.

"This is exactly the kind of event veterans should be attending," Sharpe says. "It will educate attendees about an emerging industry that will do nothing but grow and prosper in the coming decades, as will those who are visionary enough to get in on the ground floor."

The one-day symposium at Rio Hondo Community College in Whittier, Calif., will feature an impressive lineup of speakers who will discuss topics ranging from farming crops that are the raw materials for alternative fuels, such as ethanol, to the businesses that will process, market and distribute the end products.

"Just within this one sub-industry," Sharpe says, "are a great number of opportunities to establish businesses, both technical and non-technical in nature."

Sharpe also points out that financial assistance to create and operate businesses within the green industry are numerous.

"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for instance, is actively promoting funding for green industry entrepreneurs at the national, state and local levels."

Veterans wishing to attend the California Educational Symposium: An Examination of Demand vs. Feasibility and Viability are invited to contact by Jan. 12 at the Purpose Focused Alternative Learning Corporation.

And click here for the EPA's list of funding sources for those wanting to explore business opportunities in the green industry.