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A Task Force on Veteran Small Business Development

Marie Johns, Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, discusses the first public meeting of the President’s Interagency Task Force on Veteran Small Business Development.

On Friday, we held the first public meeting of the President’s Interagency Task Force on Veteran Small Business Development.

The need for this task force is clear. America’s service men and women are returning home and using the skills they honed while on active duty to start their own businesses. Many more veterans have owned businesses for years. Our commitment is to be there as a partner along the way as they start and grow their businesses, create jobs, and drive our economy forward.

The Task Force is divided into six committees, each focusing on one of the objectives outlined by the President in his executive order. This includes expanding access to capital, increasing federal contracting opportunities, and reducing the paperwork burden for federal programs. We will be asking tough questions of our agencies, talking with the veteran community, and listening to the public.

Already, there have been some good ideas. Among other topics, we discussed how we can help veterans take advantage of programs in the Small Business Jobs Act, which will put billions of dollars in the hands of small business owners. Meanwhile Sue Hoppin, of the National Military Spouse Network, brought up the need to focus outreach not just on veterans but on their families and spouses as well, because veterans turn to these support networks first.

The task force will send a report with its recommendations to the President once every year. Overall, our goal is to build on what works, fix what doesn’t, and find new ways to get veteran entrepreneurs and small business owners the tools they need to succeed. President Obama has said that “our nation’s commitment to our veterans is a sacred trust, and upholding that trust is a moral obligation.” Part of that means ensuring that our veterans have the tools and resources they need to start businesses and take hold of their piece of the American dream that they fought so honorably to protect.