Scott Dennison, president of the National Veterans Small Business Coalition, welcomes attendees to a small business workshop during the annual Washington Conference, Feb. 23. Photo by Clay Lomneth/The American Legion

Legion's small business workshop a success

Veterans, servicemembers and their spouses took advantage of a two-day Veterans Small Business Workshop during The American Legion's annual Washington Conference, Feb. 23-24.

The free workshop, "Small Business Roadmap to Success," was a collaborative effort of The American Legion, Vets GSA LLC., Goldschmitt & Associates LLC., and the National Veterans Small Business Coalition.

Geared toward small business owners and those who want to start their own business, the event allowed attendees to engage each other during presentations on federal procurement opportunities, contracting strategies, and the intricacies of starting and maintaining veteran-owned businesses.

“Approximately one out of every seven veterans are small business owners or self-employed. That’s a good number," said James Oxford, chairman of the Legion’s Veterans Employment and Education Commission. "The key to this workshop is creating pathways to entrepreneurship."

The workshop also featured informative sessions presented by veteran business owners and women entrepreneurs, and included representatives from the Small Business Administration (SBA), The Transportation Security Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Caucus for Women Veterans in Business.

Each agency and organization outlined key initiatives aimed at helping veteran business owners and touched on the importance of tapping into available resources.

“The Small Business Administration has increased efforts to break down the barriers to business ownership for veterans, servicemembers and military spouses,” said Barbara Carson, associate administrator of SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development. “The event was very helpful for all of us. Attendees found the information very useful and at the same time, I was able to get some very honest feedback about what we still have left to achieve.”

Following the informational sessions, participants were invited to a networking luncheon where they interacted with federal and private sector representatives.

“For many veterans, entrepreneurship is a viable option, especially for those who may find the job market tough to navigate," said Joe Sharpe, director of The American Legion’s Employment and Education Division. “We recognize how important it is that we assist and advocate on behalf of our veterans who are self-employed. This is why The American Legion is one of the few veterans service organizations that have invested in tangible programs and services for veteran entrepreneurs.”