New center aims to help Iowa veterans, family members become entrepreneurs

DES MOINES — Veterans Day is next week and the Iowa district office of the U.S. Small Business Administration is promoting a new center devoted to helping those who’ve served our country in uniform to launch or expand their own small businesses. Ty Williams is director of the S.B.A.’s Veterans Business Outreach Center, which opened in July in Omaha to serve Iowa and Nebraska.

“We’re hoping to reach veterans, military spouses, transitioning active duty members,” Williams says, “and our goal is to help them as they start their small businesses, provide them with training and counseling.”

The S.B.A. opened this center in an effort to show its support for this important community, which Williams says includes past and current members of the Iowa Army and Air National Guard and Reserves.

Williams says she knows first-hand how hard it can be to start or grow a small business, as well as the challenges veterans face transitioning into the civilian workforce.

“I had three small businesses of my own and I didn’t know about all these programs that were available as a military spouse,” Williams says. “I just went through the bumps and bruises of getting my businesses started. So I thought that it would be a great help to veterans if they had someone to guide them and lead them along the way, so they don’t have to make the same mistakes that I made.”

While the center is based in Omaha, Williams says the services are available to all Iowa veterans and their family members.

“Since we’re new, we’re just trying to get the word out that we are here and available to help,” Williams says. “Spread the word, attend our training, join our social media platform, because we have all our trainings and upcoming events there. A lot of our trainings are hybrid so they will be able to do it online.”

Available programs include: Boots to Business, business training and counseling, as well as help with business loans and veterans business certification.