(Tampa, FL.) Hillsborough Community College (HCC) was selected by Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) to support their Community Navigator Pilot Program, funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The competitive grant program, established as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, will assist small businesses hit hard by the pandemic. HCC received $275,000 in funding and will specifically work with the IVMF in support of the veteran community both locally and nationally.
IVMF was named as one of only eight Tier 1 grantees, selected as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s $100 million Community Navigator Pilot Program. The $5 million grant will support veteran and military spouse businesses with entrepreneurship education, small business technical assistance, loan preparation, access to capital/capital readiness, corporate and federal contracting, and networking.
Dr. Ken Atwater, President of HCC, stated, “Our state-of-the-art entrepreneur facility, InLab@HCC, and our experienced faculty and staff will assist the IVMF initiatives to serve veteran business owners.”
“This is truly exciting for IVMF and HCC. Over the next two years, this program has the potential to impact thousands of veterans and families we serve,” says Michael Haynie, Ph.D., Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives & Innovation, Barnes Professor of Entrepreneurship and IVMF Executive Director. “It is also wonderful recognition of IVMF’s and HCC’s partnership to provide veteran entrepreneurship education programs. Joining with a network of local providers like HCC allows for individual attention that understands the nuance of operating in the veteran community. This broadens our national impact, having developed a vast network of alumni and partners who are dedicated to meeting the unique needs of veterans and military-connected families,” says Haynie.
HCC will be able to draw on IVMF’s best practices, delivering cost-free entrepreneurship programs like Boots to Business (B2B), Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE), the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV), Startup Training Resources to Inspire Veteran Entrepreneurship (STRIVE), among others, that have assisted more than 75,000 participants.
During the pandemic, the IVMF also launched two new virtual entrepreneurship programs, EBV Spark and R.I.S.E. (Resilience, Innovate, Sustain, Evaluate), to help veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs adapt their businesses to the current operating environment.
In applying for the grant, the IVMF noted strong partnerships with businesses that can help veterans achieve success. In addition to HCC, the IVMF will be coordinating the work with key partners, including Texas A&M, Florida State University, St. Joseph’s University, Dog Tag Bakery and StreetShares, as well as others. Whether through direct technical support, training or networking, the entrepreneurs assisted by IVMF programs have demonstrated resilience and success; 92% are still operating their business today.
Haynie says IVMF research highlights how veterans face an array of barriers in attempting to launch businesses, including a fragmented ecosystem, capital readiness, difficulty navigating resources, certification process hurdles and lack of assistance from medical and disability service providers. He believes the new pilot program offers a unique solution that provides a navigation and support mechanism to strengthen the ecosystem, nurture entrepreneurial aspirations and sustain growth and success.
“The goal is for military-connected clients to receive efficient, timely and comprehensive access to the services and resources they need, where they are and when they need them in their entrepreneurial journey,” says Haynie.
Hillsborough Community College serves over 42,000 students annually at its five campuses located throughout Tampa Bay. The College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. For more information, visit hccfl.edu.
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