As part of its ongoing effort to support entrepreneurship and job opportunities for state veterans, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has awarded a $25,000 grant to the Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce.
The grant marks the beginning of a new partnership between WEDC and the chamber, an organization created in 2015 to support Wisconsin’s veteran business community and to promote economic opportunities for veterans, military families and veteran-friendly businesses.
The grant will support the chamber as it provides educational programming and workshops aimed at increasing the skill set of veteran entrepreneurs and business owners. The funding also will be used to assist the chamber as it works with businesses seeking to recruit and retain veteran employees in their workplace.
“Military veterans are critical to our economy. The selfless service, dedication, and determination instilled in military service members makes them leaders in business and our communities. Veterans are fueling Wisconsin’s economy,” said Saul Newton, executive director of the Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce. “We are thankful to WEDC for its support of Wisconsin's veteran business community."
“WEDC is proud to support Wisconsin veterans in their efforts to start or expand their businesses or find new career opportunities,” said Mark R. Hogan, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state’s lead economic development organization. “The grant will help the chamber promote innovation and entrepreneurship among veterans, and also provide guidance to employers interested in learning how veterans can help them meet their workforce needs.”
The WEDC grant will support the Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce in three areas:
- Empower veterans, military personnel and their families to start new businesses by providing technical education, coordinating existing resources for entrepreneurs and veterans, and expanding access to capital and other resources.
- Help Wisconsin’s 65,000 veteran-owned businesses by increasing access to educational and financial resources, increasing awareness of Wisconsin’s veteran business community, and marketing the products and services provided those businesses.
- Develop and integrate veterans’ talent to provide employers with information and resources to help them recruit and retain veteran employees.
Over the next year, the chamber will use grant funding to provide at least 40 businesses with technical assistance, including one-on-one meetings as well as workshops that will provide information on topics such as business finance and management, marketing, procurement and contracting, minority supplier certification process, asset building, and networking.
“This initiative will help establish Wisconsin as a destination for service members leaving military service to begin their civilian careers,” Hogan added. “As one of the only states in the country to have a state-based veteran business organization, Wisconsin will be a national leader in developing programs to support veteran-owned and veteran-friendly businesses.”
WEDC also is supporting efforts to boost veteran entrepreneurship through its support of Bunker Labs Wisconsin. WEDC provided a $95,000 grant last year for Bunker Labs’ Innovator Academy, which offers veteran-led startups training, workspace and access to mentors and investors in a peer-to-peer learning environment.