During National Small Business Week, support Wisconsin’s veteran-owned businesses
A strong veterans business community means more small business growth in our state, more family-supporting jobs in our communities, and greater economic opportunity for everyone.
Jessica Dragan served in the U.S. Army for four years, including a deployment to Kuwait during the first Gulf War. After she left the Army, Dragan returned to Wisconsin, earned her certification as a massage therapist, and started her own massage therapy business, Spa Massage on the GO. Today, Dragan’s business is growing and employs a team of eleven massage therapists serving mostly elderly patients and patients in hospice care.
Veterans like Dragan are part of an integral and fast growing sector of Wisconsin’s economy: veteran entrepreneurs. Despite the substantial contributions veterans make to their local communities and our state’s economy, veterans face inherent disadvantages as entrepreneurs in part because of their military service. This week is the U.S. Small Business Administration’s National Small Business Week, and it is important to pay special attention to the role veteran-owned small businesses play in growing our economy. A vibrant and strong veterans business community means more small business growth in our state, more family-supporting jobs in our communities, and greater economic opportunity for everyone.
Veterans are leaving military service and returning to civilian life to take leadership roles in business. According to the National Veteran Owned Business Association, veterans are twice as likely as their nonveteran peers to start their own business. The U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2007 that there are over 65,000 businesses owned by military veterans in Wisconsin. These businesses are as diverse and varied as the communities they call home, employing over 110,000 people and bringing sales of over $20 billion. Wisconsin’s veteran-owned businesses significantly contribute to our communities and our state’s economy.
Even though veterans play a crucial role in growing our state’s economy, they face inherent disadvantages in part because of their military service and veteran status. Gaining access to capital or financing is difficult for veterans who, due to deployments or duty stations, may lack the local professional network or financial history necessary to establish or expand their business. While business-training programs are available to many entrepreneurs, veterans and military service members have not had access to those resources. Moreover, public policy priorities and public resources serving under-represented groups have historically overlooked the veteran business community. The challenges military veterans face has resulted in 93% of veteran owned businesses failing within ten years, far outpacing the 70% of all businesses who fail in the same period.
Wisconsin’s veteran business owners are an important part of Wisconsin’s economy, and they deserve recognition and support. Take this opportunity to patronize a veteran owned business in your community, and tell elected officials as well as community leaders to support and invest in veteran owned businesses. Veterans have served their country in the military, and are now serving their communities by growing our economy. Through teamwork and collaboration, we can all benefit from their success.