Before starting my job at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), I had no idea about the link that exists between Veterans and small business. Now, after having been immersed in the world of small business for the past couple of months, I can see that VA’s success in caring for “those who have borne the battle” is very much reliant on our ability to work with and support the Veteran-owned small business community.
Nearly 2.5 million businesses in the United States are now Veteran-owned, representing nine percent of all U.S. firms. This statistic confirms what VA and the Obama Administration already know – small businesses (particularly Veteran-owned small businesses) are the backbone of America.
VA is committed to supporting and building partnerships between Veterans, small businesses, and the government. One of the ways we’re working to do that is through the development of a new approach: enabling Veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs) and service disabled Veteran-owned businesses (SDVOSBs) to increase their value by offering opportunities to connect on contracts with the federal government. These opportunities will be available to all who register for the upcoming National Veteran Small Business Conference in New Orleans, LA on August 15-18, 2011.
This event is part of VA’s commitment to better prepare Veteran-owned businesses to compete and win contracts with the federal government.
The conference will be the largest gathering of Veteran-owned small businesses in the country, and participants will have the opportunity to learn the process for Veteran business participation in government contracting from senior leaders representing VA, Department of Defense (DoD), and Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Spread across different tracks for different business needs, the learning sessions are designed to:
In addition, key contracting and procurement decision makers will also meet with participants in sessions and network with attendees at meals and plenary sessions.
The conference will present more than 120 sessions designed to strengthen small businesses. Experts in all aspects of small business development will address a wide range of business creation issues including branding, marketing, financing, invoicing, and many more topics.
The agenda will also feature more than 20 sessions focused on federal acquisition alone. Topics will range from agency forecasts to federal schedules and everything in between, with new sessions and key procurement decision makers being added to the agenda weekly.
Five high level keynote speakers have already been announced for the conference:
All of the major GSA and VA schedules will be represented at the conference. Schedule managers will address the purpose of their schedule, who in government uses it, and provide step by step guidance on how to get on the schedule.
For the first time at the National Veterans Small Business Conference, a VA Open House will be featured on August 17th from 11 AM to 7 PM. Attendees can visit booths and go to learning sessions about benefit and Veteran health opportunities, as well as employment skills such as resume building and how to apply for a federal job. Information will also be available on how to gain access to programs like eBenefits and services for women and minority veterans, as well as the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
A special volunteer opportunity will allow attendees to assemble care packages for hospitalized Veterans in the greater New Orleans region on Monday, August 15, before and during the conference.
The National Veteran Small Business Conference is open to both government and non-government personnel, and is a great opportunity for Veteran small business owners to learn, network, market and build lasting partnerships.
For more information and to register, visit www.nationalveteransconference.com.
Jessica Slider is Special Assistant to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.