We are pleased to report that, on December 5, 2020, VETRN graduated 17 veteran small business owners and family members from its first online Pilot Program with participants from seven states, including NH, MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, and Colorado.
Although this is the sixth VETRN Program and Graduation, it is the first Online Program and Learning Platform and the second VETRN program and graduation held in 2020.
In 2019, VETRN was given a $100,000 grant from the SBA to help fund two VETRN Pilot Programs in 2020. The first program was an in-class program held in Portsmouth, NH and included 20 veteran small business owners and family members from Maine, NH and MA. The VETRN in-class pilot program was a significant success and graduation took place in March 2020, just before the shut down due to Covid-19. We were scheduled to conduct a second in-class pilot program in NH under the SBA Grant, but, due to Covid-19, we were unable to hold a second in-class venue.
So, we shifted. Although we had never done an online program previously and did not have a background in using an online learning platform, but we decided to go in this direction and learned how to put together a first class VETRN online learning platform covering all the New England states, NY, and NJ. Given the economic crisis, we also added a course on “How to Manage Through a Financial Crisi” and offered the veteran participants the option of preparing a 12-month Turnaround Plan instead of a 3-year Growth Plan.
At the recent VETRN Online Graduation Ceremony, the SBA was well represented, with SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza giving the Keynote Address. Other SBA representatives in attendance included Larry Stubblefield, the SBA Associate Administrator for Veterans Business Development; Wendell Davis, Regional SBA Director for New England; Bob Nelson, SBA District Director for MA.; Rachael Roderick, Acting District Director for NH; and Ray Milano, head of the SBA Veteran Business Outreach Centers. Also in attendance were Darrell Byers, Bernard Johnson, and Holden Pierre of Interise, a VETRN partner. Administrator Carranza congratulated the graduates and praised the VETRN program for its outstanding contribution to the success of veteran entrepreneurs. She also indicated a desire by the SBA to expand its relationship with VETRN in 2021.
Thank you to everyone who has been involved with, participated in and supported the VETRN program to date and thank you as well for your continuing support. Without you, the success of the VETRN program would not be possible.
Lee Goldberg, President