CHICAGO—As many veterans struggle to find a job or start a career, the administration of Governor Pat Quinn hosted more than 200 veterans at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) to learn about starting or growing their own businesses as part of the state's "Mission: Veteran 2 Entrepreneurs" (MV2E) program.
The MV2E initiative was launched at the direction of Gov. Quinn by the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) and the Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS) in June 2012 to help returning service members and veterans learn more about resources and opportunities available to veteran-owned businesses through government agencies, educational institutions, trade associations, business sector experts and employers. This joint agency MV2E program underscores Gov. Quinn’s long-standing commitment to both supporting veterans and creating jobs.
“We know that, for many veterans, entrepreneurship is a great way to translate military leadership experience and mission focus into civilian world success,” said Erica Borggren, Director, IDVA. “Events like this are critical to helping veterans navigate the civilian business world, finding a ways to turn their passions into thriving businesses and in turn, creating jobs right here in Illinois. We are pleased so many veterans registered for this event.”
MV2E was coordinated into three distinct tracks for veterans:
• BUSINESS CONCEPT TO BUSINESS MODEL: For those veterans interested in or just beginning on the path to entrepreneurship.
• GROWING YOUR START-UP: Geared towards helping fledgling businesses grow, engage for government business/contracts and to help employ others.
• SCALING YOUR BUSINESS: A more advanced track to help established businesses master the market and enjoy a stronger financial and operational base.
“We are proud to help our military men and women, who selflessly served our country, to re-enter the civilian workforce and achieve financial success,” said Malcolm E. Weems, Director, CMS. “Through our Veteran Business Program, we will continue to help veteran- and disabled-veteran owned businesses learn more about doing business with the state and its universities.”
Through CMS’ Veterans Business Program (VBP), Illinois businesses that are 51% owned by one or more service-disabled veterans or veterans living in Illinois, with annual gross sales under $75 million, can qualify for certification through the state. VBP encourages state agencies and universities to spend at least 3% of their procurement budgets with certified Veteran-owned businesses.
Companies such as AT&T, Capitol One, Google, Goldman Sachs and organizations such as the UIC Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies (IES) and John Marshall Law School gave presentations and conducted workshops at the free, MV2E event. Veterans had the opportunity to network and exchange best practices with agency experts, key business associations and like-minded professionals. The event was held at UIC’s Student Center East in partnership with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
“The Illinois SBDC network, supported by the Small Business Administration, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and UIC's College of Business Administration, is a great place for veterans to get help starting and growing a business,” said Michele Dorvil Agbejule, Executive Director, IES and Director, SBDC at UIC. “From market analysis to identifying funding resources, we help veterans create their own opportunities.”
For more information on the MV2E program, please visit: illinois.gov/veterans/programs/Pages/Veterans2Entrepreneurs.aspx