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Veterans' Small Businesses to Get Federal Help

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 7, 1999 – President Clinton signed into law a program designed to help veterans, particularly the disabled, develop small businesses.

Clinton signed the Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act of 1999 in August. The law is intended to aid "those who have sacrificed so much in the service of our country," Clinton said in an Aug. 17 White House statement.

"By helping these American heroes to establish, maintain and grow their own small businesses, we help to sustain our strong economy and express our gratitude for their service to America," the president said.

Clinton pointed out that the law also includes measures to lessen the impact on small businesses when owners or essential employees who are reservists are ordered to active duty.

"By providing loans, loan payment deferrals, technical and managerial assistance for these citizen solders, we can help ensure that they do not have to risk their livelihoods while they risk they lives," the president said.

The new law will help veteran-owned businesses obtain technical, financial and procurement assistance, according to Scott Denniston, director of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization at the Department of Veterans Affairs. He noted that the bill establishes a 3 percent federal procurement goal for service-disabled veterans businesses. It also calls for establishing a federally chartered national veterans business development corporation to help veteran's form and expand small businesses.

The law also calls for the establishment of an advisory committee on veterans business affairs. It will serve as an independent source of advice and policy recommendations to the Small Business Administration, Congress, the president and other U.S. policy makers.

Denniston said the VA, Labor Department and Small Business Administration will work together to help veterans establish and maintain small businesses. The VA, for example, will identify veteran businesses and notify them of what federal assistance is available to them through the Small Business Administration, he said.

Veterans seeking more information on the entrepreneurship law should contact their local district Small Business Administration office, listed in the blue government pages of their local phone books.

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