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Supporting small business

Management | May 1, 2014 | By:

SBA awards funding entrepreneurship training for veterans; Surety Bond Guarantee program contracts increase 61 percent in 2013.

As part of its “Boots to Business” program, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has announced that it has awarded a $3 million grant to Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) to deliver entrepreneurship education and training to transitioning service members.

“Veterans are a cornerstone of small business ownership,” says SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, who met with veteran small business owners within hours of starting at the SBA on April 7. “We owe them a debt of gratitude for their service. Veterans have the skills to adapt to many challenges and the leadership and discipline required to own and operate a small business. The SBA is committed to supporting our veterans as they transition back to civilian life and pursue the American dream by starting businesses when they come home.” Each year, more than 250,000 service members transition out of the military—natural entrepreneurs who possess the skills, experience and leadership to start businesses and create jobs.

Boots to Business is a three-step program developed to introduce transitioning service members to business ownership and connect them to support resources in their local communities. The curriculum provides valuable assistance for exploring self-employment opportunities by leading participants through the key steps for evaluating business concepts and the foundational knowledge required for developing a business plan.

Funding for the agreement will support instruction, curriculum development and materials production for the program, which includes two-day courses on military installations and an instructor-led eight-week online course to introduce and prepare transitioning service members for business ownership and connect them to local SBA resources for continued support.
The funds will also be used to extend Boots to Business to service members overseas.

The agreement with IVMF enables a consortium of 14 universities across the U.S. to provide instructors for the Boots to Business entrepreneurship training program. IVMF will work closely with the SBA and its resource partners, including the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), Women’s Business Centers (WBC), SCORE and Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOC), organizations that provide essential instruction, mentorship and access to capital counseling to program participants.

Boots to Business is a training track within the Department of Defense’s “Transition, Goals, Plans, Success” (Transition GPS) program that is designed to support service members as they transition to civilian life. The program began as a pilot in 2012, expanded nationally in 2013, and was appropriated $7 million in the fiscal year 2014 federal budget for sustainment and expansion. During the first full year of the program, more than 6,000 transitioning service members participated in the two-day “Introduction to Entrepreneurship” class on 140 U.S. military installations.

Veterans make up a large number of successful small business owners. Nine percent of small businesses are veteran-owned, and these 2.45 million veteran-owned businesses employ more than five million individuals. In the private sector workforce, veterans are more likely than those with no active-duty military experience to be self-employed.

SBA currently engages veterans through its 68 local SBA district offices, 16 Veterans Business Outreach Centers nationwide, and its partnership with 1,000 SBDCs and approximately 12,000 SCORE chapters. Each year SBA helps more than 200,000 veterans, service-disabled veterans and reservists start and grow their own small businesses. For more information, visit

SBA Surety Bond Guarantee Program

With the help of the Small Business Administration’s Surety Bond Guarantee (SBG) program, small construction firms were awarded more than $1.2 billion in contracts in fiscal year 2013, a 61 percent increase over fiscal year 2012. SBA also guaranteed bonds for public and private contract bids valued at $4.9 billion, resulting in a total contract amount of more than $6.1 billion.

“The Surety Bond Guarantee program, along with our loan programs, provides small businesses with significant opportunities to grow and create jobs, which translates into stronger local economies,” says Ann Marie Mehlum, SBA associate administrator for the office of Capital Access, which oversees the SBG program. “2013 was a banner year, and we look forward to an even better 2014 helping small businesses bid for and obtain contracts.”

SBA guarantees bid, performance and payment bonds issued by surety companies, which encourages them to bond small businesses having difficulty obtaining bonding on their own. For the past seven years, the Surety Bond program has maintained steady growth in every key measure, including the number of bond guarantees issued, contract dollars awarded to small businesses and number of small businesses assisted. The SBA has also implemented several enhancements geared toward streamlining the underwriting process and providing easier access for surety companies in the eastern part of the country.

  • The Quick Bond Guarantee Application can be used for contracts valued at $250,000 or less and reduces the majority of paperwork and other underwriting information required of sureties and small businesses on larger contracts, allowing bonds to be issued faster.
  • A new underwriting office has been opened in Washington, D.C., serving small businesses and surety companies in the following states: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, Vermont, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. The rest of the country is serviced by two SBG area offices located in Denver and Seattle.

The maximum contract ceiling in the program was increased from $2 million to $6.5 million by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013, coming just in time for an expected turnaround in the construction industry. The United States will soon be spending billions of dollars in needed infrastructure investment, and SBA’s Surety Bond Guarantee Program will help to ensure that small businesses play a significant role. SBA assistance in locating a participating surety company or agent, and completing application forms, is available online.

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