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Minnesota National Guard
Governor hosts Veterans Entrepreneur Seminars

Recently Returned Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Learn Available Resources

More than 160 Veterans from Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom attended the "How to Start a Small Business Seminar" Tuesday, August 31 in St Paul  The seminar was hosted by Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and jointly presented by the Minnesota Dept of Veterans Affairs, the Minnesota Department of Economic and Employment Development, US Small Business Administration and the Minnesota National Guard

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The seminar began with an introduction by Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Larry Shellito

"If you're going into business, make sure you attract people who are your opposite," Shellito advised "If you're a great salesman you need someone who can take care of the books"

Shellito also advised to be prepared to adjust skill sets "Instead of being a good rifleman; you're going to have to be a squad leader, "¦ and then a platoon sergeant, "¦ and then the company commander as your business grows All the skills and talents that you have "¦ you will have to train others to do that for you"

Governor Tim Pawlenty provided a big picture overview of the seminars intent "Our goal here "¦ is to give you an overview of the opportunities that exist and the kinds of requirements that need to be met and the resources that are available," explained Pawlenty Continued partnership with many service providers was also encouraged "There are programs the small business administration has available just for members of the military and veterans"

This was the first of six seminars to support Service members in starting their own business  Service members heard from experts in the field and learned from experienced veterans who are business owners Lt. Col. (Ret) Ken Roehl and Sgt Maj Judson Meyer, 1st Battalion, 151st Field Artillery, were keynote speakers Most importantly, said Meyer, "have a business plan, create a budget, get people you can trust"

Getting state veteran preference information was a popular topic among attendees "That information will really help my landscaping business grow"said Spc Michael Cocuzzi, 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry Master Sgt Rich Kemp, 34th Infantry Division, and his wife have a particular business venture in mind "It was great to hear from other military members, their successes and failures and pick up a few ideas and resources," said Kemp "The testimonials from Soldiers who ran a business while on deployment and other veteran experiences were very helpful We also learned how to get on the government "˜preferred vendor list' and about tax issues," said Sgt Dajon Schafer, Joint Force Headquarters, a small business owner

A lively panel discussion included representatives from Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, The University of St Thomas, U of M-Carlson School of Management, SCORE-Counselors to America's Small Business, Veterans' Initiative Center & Research Institute, The James J Hill Library, and the Legal Corps Chap (Lt. Col.) John Morris facilitated the discussion Numerous educational institutions and agencies serving Veterans were also in attendance

Service members were exposed to multiple entrepreneurial programs and resources and had the opportunity to network with fellow entrepreneurs Service members also had a chance to be linked to an experienced mentor to help them start a small business 

According to Charles Schaffer of the Minnesota Small Business Assistance Office (MNSBAO), a part of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, their objective was to provide information on financing a small business and in particular the State of Minnesota's new loan program for start-up of businesses owned by veterans The MNSBAO also provided attendees with loan applications and CD versions of their related publications "A Guide to Starting A Business in Minnesota" and "Loan Documentation for Small Businesses

This seminar series comes at a time when unemployment rates are high across the nation and Service members returning from deployment are seeking entrepreneurial opportunities  Attendees should leave the seminars with a thorough understanding of the funding available to start a business, the agencies handling the funding, the process for seeking funding and the educational programs available to help in developing a marketable business plan

Veterans Entrepreneur Seminar dates
13 Oct- Moorehead
20 Oct- Duluth
27 Oct- Rochester
3 Nov- Saint Cloud

Register at wwwbtyrorg

Photos and story by Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Ewer
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs
31 Aug, 2010


Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1n4fUoa7gA

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