For more than 22 years, Veterans Business Outreach Centers have sought to connect veterans to the resources they need to start businesses and become entrepreneurs. And now a VBOC will soon be in Hutchinson.
“Veterans possess a lot of skill sets from their time in the military,” said Dan Newberry, a VBOC representative. “Veterans tend to have strong leadership skills, managerial skills. They’re reliable, able to work under pressure and think outside the box — those things translate well into becoming an entrepreneur.”
For about a year now, he’s been part of the VBOC mission. The U.S. is broken up into 22 regions, each with a VBOC center, including one for Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois. The center’s presence in Wisconsin has been strong, and thanks to help from Hutchinson, Newberry expects it can grow in Minnesota as well.
“It was this past year that I met Tim (Burley) and he’s helped us really network and build relationships here in Minnesota,” Newberry said.
American Legion Post 96 Commander Tim Burley directs Welcome Home Vet, which shares in the VBOC mission to make transition easier for veterans.
“We’re working with (Hutchinson Economic Development Director) Miles (Seppelt) to go more in depth,” Burley said. “They’re going to provide office space and conference space.”
Newberry and his colleague, Dr. Makeba Butler, will spend time over the next month setting up at the EDA’s business incubator. They’re working with Minnesota veterans already and plan to have everything set up in the new space by the end of July. All of the logistics are forthcoming, but Newberry plans to be in Hutchinson the third week of each month, on hand for meetings with Hutchinson residents and others in the region.
“This just give us a home base in Hutchinson, but we do service the entire state of Minnesota,” he said. “We can host meetings, do them virtually or on the phone. We can facilitate face-to-face. People could come from elsewhere or we could drive out to people. It’s really up to them.”
Offered are one-on-one consultations to veterans who want to be a business owner or entrepreneur, and service to spouses or children of veterans as well. Lessons available touch on how to access financing, how to legally structure a business, marketing and more. The Boots to Business program offers assistance to service members soon to transition out of the military.
“People should know it’s free,” Newberry said. “It’s not a lot of hurdles. They just have to register on the website.”
To register, visit wwbic.com/veterans.
“I will be notified in the system,” Newberry said. “Then I send a welcome email with a link where they can schedule a one-on-one consultation.”
Offering services to veterans provides an economic boon to their communities, Burley said, as they’re known to run successful businesses, volunteer hours and give money to help neighbors and local organizations.
“I meet a lot of people like myself,” said Newberry, who was medically discharged after nine years of service. “I didn’t have a big plan, and then I became a business owner. When I have a client I see a lot of myself. ... I enjoy helping them get going to be self-employed and independent.”