DENVER — When our nation's heroes return home from the military, many of them are ready to make their marks on the small business world.
Some of them, however, are finding major barriers when it comes to business ownership.
That's why the Small Business Administration and Congress are reaching out to veterans this week to learn what they can do to make it easier for veterans to own businesses.
Thursday's meeting starts at 7 a.m. and lasts until 10:30 a.m.
It's virtual, so veterans across the country can join in on Microsoft Teams or by dialing 202-765-1264 and enter the Conference ID: 620730395#.
According to the SBA, more than 7% of businesses in Colorado are owned by veterans.
David Levesque, the owner of Launch Pad Brewery in Aurora, was a nuclear weapons missile maintainer for the U.S. Air Force. He says the military teaches some of the skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur.
“The military is a business," Levesque said. "We do everything in the military from purchasing to supplying to training. It’s non-stop. So, being able to have all those skills we have in the military and be able to transition them to a small business, it’s pretty fun.”
Levesque was stationed at Buckly Airforce Base in 2007 when he tried craft beer for the first time. Shortly after, he started making his own.
"One day, someone said I should open a brewery, and I kind of laughed about it a little bit, and I decided to open up," he said. "We’ve been here since 2015."
His biggest challenge is securing capital.
"I think if there was a way for Congress to assist in the initial funding for businesses to start, I think that would help tremendously," Levesque says.
If that problem was solved, he thinks more veteran-owned businesses like his could thrive.
"We’ve been here since 2015," Levesque said. "We’re going on our seven year anniversary, 32 beers on tap. We’ve kind of just been having fun, brewing beer, selling beer and enjoying the community."
The Pike's Peak Small Business Development Center helps guide veterans through the business ownership process. It offers one-on-one business consulting and training online or by phone at 719-667-3803.
While some veterans are looking to take the next step to business ownership, others continue to need assistance with a variety of issues such as health care and housing.
During his address to the nation, President Joe Biden promised support for veterans saying, in part:
"Veterans are the best of us," he said. "I’ve always believed that we have a sacred obligation to equip all those we send to war and care for them and their families when they come home. My administration is providing assistance with job training and housing and now helping lower-income veterans get VA care debt-free.”
The National Veterans Foundation can help veterans navigate and better understand their benefits with the VA.
Volunteers of America can help veterans in a variety of ways from housing, to help around the home. You can contact them online or by calling (303) 297-0408.