SBA grant establishes UTA center to help veterans with entrepreneurial skills
The University of Texas at Arlington College of Business has been awarded a two-year, $500,000 Small Business Administration grant to establish a Veterans Business Outreach Center that will offer educational, training and consulting services to veterans who are starting a business or franchise.
The UTA Veterans Business Outreach Center is the second such center established in Texas, the center in the largest metropolitan area to date and the 19th center nationwide. Among the existing centers is one at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg.
The UTA grant will support:
- Collaborative, hands-on, interactive learning opportunities for veterans, disabled veterans, spouses, National Guard and reserve component members through the Texas Veterans Commission Veteran Entrepreneur Program;
- Continued training at area military bases through Operation Boots to Business: From Service to Startup;
- A UTA Entrepreneur Manufacturing Boot Camp for Veterans;
- Ongoing one-on-one business counseling and training programs, courses and seminars;
- Building a community of interactive veteran resource partners locally and across SBA Region VI;
- And workshops to include how to start a business, writing a business plan, credit counseling, learning about the SBA loan program, the Veterans Advantage and more.
Rachel Croson, dean of the UTA College of Business, said the program will provide needed education and training to those who have given much to their country.
"This program will make UTA the first stop for veterans who are leaving the military to pursue a business education," Croson said. "This program benefits our veterans, but also makes the university and the College of Business stronger by bringing their talents into our classes and onto our campus. Finally, this initiative strengthens the U.S. and Texas economy, as participating veterans are given the training and support to create businesses of their own."
Air Force veteran Tony Tinderholt, R- Arlington, applauded the initiative and said, "Veterans, UTA, North Texas, the nation and the economy are the winners in the establishment of this center. It will provide military veterans the education and skills they need to launch successful businesses of their own. That, in turn, will expand our economy and create jobs for others."
Edmund Prater, an associate professor in the Department of Information Systems and Operations Management, will serve as principal investigator of the research grant and executive director of the center. Its programs will be built upon principles of entrepreneurship and franchising, areas that appeal to veterans, he said.
"The research shows that the attributes these veterans employ in the field translate well to the world of business," Prater said. "Once you've been shot at, the problems of starting a business aren't that big of a deal."
The Department of Veteran Affairs shows that Texas is second only to California in the size of its veteran population with nearly 1.6 million veterans to California's veteran population of about 1.8 million. The Texas Veteran Commission says that North Texas is No. 1 location for veterans, and many have enrolled in UTA.
The University counts more than 3,000 military veterans and their dependents among its student population. Military Times magazine ranks UTA as the top Texas college for veterans and lists the University as No. 16 among four-year schools nationwide that offer undergraduate or graduate degrees or both. The magazine also ranks the UTA College of Business among the nation's top 50 business schools for veterans.
UTA established a campus-based Veterans Assistance Center in May 2013 as part of the Veterans Upward Bound program. The center provides student veterans tutoring, mentoring, assistance with completing forms and a place to unwind in between classes.
In addition, many UTA faculty members have attracted research grants to support studies that explore better ways to help veterans who suffer from physical and psychological challenges as they return to civilian life.
Patrick E. Alcorn, formerly of the Texas Veterans Commission's Veteran Entrepreneur Program, will serve as director of the new UTA Veterans Business Outreach Center. He said his team will work closely with the state agency entrusted with the welfare of Texas veterans.
States and regions were selected as potential VBOC sites based on "Boots to Business" program demand, military installation and transitioning population data. Boots to Business is an entrepreneurial training program the SBA operates for the Department of Defense's Transition Assistance Program, the agency said.
Earlier this month, Alcorn said about 265 veterans attended a one-day seminar about entrepreneurship and franchising.
Call 817-272-1704 for more information about UTA's Veterans Business Outreach Center.
About The University of Texas at Arlington
The University of Texas at Arlington is a R-1 – Carnegie "highest research activity" institution of more than 53,000 students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second-largest institution in The University of Texas System. U.S. News & World Report ranks UTA fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as the top four-year college in Texas for veterans on Military Times' 2016 Best for Vets list. Visit http://www.uta.edu to learn more, and find UTA rankings and recognition at http://www.uta.edu/uta/about/rankings.php.