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Congressman Jerry McNerney

Representing the 9th District of California

Rep. McNerney Introduces Bill to Spur Veterans’ Entrepreneurship

Jul 12, 2016
Press Release

Washington – In an effort to help veterans maximize their broad skill set off the battlefield, and navigate the tricky field of startups and entrepreneurial opportunities, Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-09) has introduced the Strengthening Technical Assistance, Resources, and Training to Unleash the Potential of Veterans (STARTUP Vets) Act of 2016. This legislation would connect veterans aspiring to become business owners with technical and financial resources via incubators and accelerators that commit to creating more veteran-owned and operated businesses.   

“After completing their military service, many of our veterans look for opportunities to apply their unique set of skills and experiences to the business sector but can find it difficult to transfer their military experience into the civilian sector,” said Rep. Jerry McNerney. “The STARTUP Vets Act seeks to make that transition a little easier by connecting veterans with startup incubators and accelerators that can provide them with the capital, training, and other resources needed to cultivate their entrepreneurial pursuits and launch new business ventures.”

This bill amends the Small Business Act to establish an incubator and accelerator grant program for veterans and members of the Armed Forces. The purpose of this legislation is to provide veterans the resources and tools to effectively transfer their relevant skills and experiences to a small business venture start-up or entrepreneurial opportunity, and to help veterans collaborate on business development ideas within their community.

Through this legislation, grants will be made available on a competitive basis to incubators and accelerators that provide resources, assistance, and training to veterans in the pursuit of building entrepreneurship and small business ownership.

A recent piece in The New York Times illustrates how connecting more veterans with training, educational resources and capital to boost their business acumen can result in successful, new business ventures. That piece also cites a Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation report, stating that veterans made up only 5.6 percent of all U.S. entrepreneurs in 2014.

Incubators and accelerators are driving innovation in today’s economy by connecting entrepreneurs and different teams to create new startups, business ventures, and social initiatives. These entities support start-ups through partnerships, mentoring, and resources and connect them with seasoned entrepreneurs. Incubators and accelerators help cultivate new businesses by providing financial, technical, and industry support and services as necessary.

“Veteran-owned businesses benefit local economies across the country, and I have fought hard to increase opportunities for these businesses to expand in California. The leadership, ingenuity and ability of our veterans to perform well under pressure are skills that every good business owner should possess, and the STARTUP Vets Act will set our veterans up for success,” add Rep. McNerney.

The STARTUP Vets Act could help entities in San Joaquin County, including the Northeastern California Small Business Development Center, and Contra Costa County that provide small business training to individuals to assist them in starting and growing their businesses.

“With the continued slow-to-moderate growth economy, entrepreneurship continues to be a viable option for many Americans, including those who are looking for opportunities after having served their country in the military,” said Nate McBride, Director of the Northeastern California Small Business Development Center at San Joaquin Delta College.

“Any support given to facilitate that process for our veterans is a way to help them transition to meaningful and productive civilian life, and also continue to support economic development through entrepreneurship. Our center would be honored to provide the services outlined under this proposed legislation, or work with and support efforts of organizations that could provide these services,” added McBride.

“The STARTUP Vets Act is a jobs bill. This legislation could provide members of the Armed Forces and veteran entrepreneurs with specialized small business training and resources to start and grow businesses, and serve more people. Veteran entrepreneurs are the backbone of America and are committed to excellence. As a veteran entrepreneur, I appreciate Congressman McNerney for always having our backs and fighting for veterans in Northern California to have access to quality healthcare and more economic opportunities,” said John L. Easter, Founder of the Homeless Veterans Program For Non-Commissioned Officers located in Stockton, CA.

H.R. 5698 is the House companion bill to S. 2273 introduced by U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) last November.

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Rep. Jerry McNerney proudly serves the constituents of California’s 9th Congressional District that includes portions of San Joaquin, Contra Costa, and Sacramento Counties. For more information on Rep. McNerney’s work, follow him on Facebook and on Twitter @RepMcNerney.