Home • Burlington County News Why veterans are good for business – as owners 

Why veterans are good for business – as owners 

A new program is making it possible for veterans to ease the financial burden of owning a business.

Businesses owned by veterans and current military personnel in Burlington County can apply for a grant up to $20,000 to aid in their economic recovery and growth. The idea – conceived by county commissioners – recently launched and is accepting applications.

New Jersey has dozens of veteran merchants, according to county lists at   veteranownedbusiness.com, from a transmission and auto care business in Gloucester County, to a mortgage company in Camden County to a fitness center in Burlington County.

A census bureau survey with data from 2019 found vet-owned businesses represented 5.7% of all merchants nationwide and employed about four million people, according to JPMorgan Chase’s Office of Military and Veterans Affairs. But it also showed that entrepreneurship rates in some areas are on the decline, often because of barriers in accessing capital. 

That makes the local grants both beneficial and timely.

Another barrier to business ownership is that some veterans have difficulty figuring out what they might want to do after their service, according to Utah-based Warrior Rising, a nationwide nonprofit that helps U.S. vets make that decision through partnerships, mentoring and economic assistance, according to its website.

Started in 2015, Warrior Rising has offered enough grants to vets that it is now approaching 100 vet-owned businesses established this year. 

“As opposed to some nonprofits, Warrior Rising doesn’t give a veteran one good day,” its website notes. “We give veterans the opportunity to earn their success and have one good life … We believe in empowering veterans to solve their own problems.”

Statewide, vets are prized as entrepreneurs: New Jersey already offers certifications for businesses owned by veterans and disabled veterans, a program that began in 1978.

“As a veteran myself, I know first hand the difficulties our men and women in uniform face when they return home,” said Gov. Phil Murphy this year, after signing legislation to expand business opportunities for disabled veterans. 

“It is our obligation – not just as elected officials, but as fellow Americans – to do everything in our power to dismantle obstacles to opportunity for our state’s veterans.”

It should be noted that communities benefit from veteran-owned businesses, too. Military experience cultivates essential characteristics for entrepreneurs, such as leadership, discipline, and adaptability, notes the Small Business Administration (SBA), skills that often take non-veterans longer to develop. 

Current military members and vets tend to be calm under pressure and expert problem-solvers, qualities that transfer well to the business world, JPMorgan Chase asserts. And lenders recognize that a former service member is more likely to be loyal, honest and trustworthy when it comes to paying back a loan.

“Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart,” emphasizes former U.S. Army Capt. Joe Quinn, who owns a food business at Coney Island in New York. “But it’s an environment very well-suited for veterans, who love to challenge themselves and get results.”

For more information about the Burlington County grant program, eligibility and how to apply, visit https://www.co.burlington.nj.us/2063/VeteranMilitary-Owned-Business-Grants, call (609) 755-5711 or email BurlCoVets@cpgh.net.

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