It’s National Veterans Small Business Week, and with Veterans Day coming up next week, there’s no better time to recognize Maryland’s veterans and the work they do to drive Maryland’s businesses forward.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Maryland has the highest median household income for veterans in the United States. Additionally, we have one of the highest percentages of veterans in the workforce—more than 83 percent.
Here are some ways that Maryland supports veterans seeking new career skills or starting new businesses.
Industry training opportunities
According to LinkedIn’s Veteran Opportunity Report, veterans are 426 percent more likely to study computer and information systems security or information assurance. With such high demand in the IT sector, it’s no wonder why local companies have started offering additional training programs for veterans throughout Maryland.
Cisco – a worldwide leader in IT and cybersecurity solutions – is working to ease veterans’ transitions from military to civilian life. By targeting areas with a dense veteran population, as well as ample opportunities in technology, the company is focused on training members of the military in Arizona, North Carolina, Virginia, and most importantly—Maryland.
According to Cisco, the local launch of CyberVetsUSA will train at least 200 veterans looking to live in Maryland and work in the local cybersecurity industry, which will help fill numerous available IT positions across the state. With Cisco’s largest cyber business (Talos Intelligence Group) based in Howard County, and approximately 750 full-time Cisco employees in Maryland, it is understandable why the company would want to re-invest in its own backyard.
“As a military-friendly employer, Cisco is committed to giving back to our veteran community,” said Gena Pirtle, military and veteran programs manager at Cisco. “Since 2018, approximately 500 service members and military spouses have been trained through the CyberVetsUSA program.”
In spring, Cisco will provide up to 200 additional scholarships to the U.S. military community, with a portion of the opportunities reserved for military spouses. By enrolling in the CyberVetsUSA program, students gain access to a variety of career resources including mentors, a network of employers, and job placement through the company’s Talent Bridge for Veterans program.
Accelerating federal contracts and business growth
Navigating the federal marketplace can be difficult, but thanks to a number of sponsors, there is an invaluable training opportunity available for veterans in Potomac, Md.
With more than 400 graduates from Maryland, the nationwide Veteran Institute for Procurement (VIP) program has helped accelerate business growth and build B2G relationships for the past 10 years.
With funding from the Montgomery County Chamber Community Foundation, U.S. Small Business Administration, Lockheed Martin, Maryland Commerce, and more, the VIP partnership is known as the first free training program for veteran-owned small businesses across the U.S.
According to the MCCCF, VIP graduates have increased their revenue by approximately 63 percent within the first year of graduating, and more than 350 percent two years after graduating.
“As a graduate of the Maryland VIP program, I have to say that this was the best boot camp a veteran owner can attend,” said Thomas A. Grobicki, CEO of Avilar Technologies, Inc. “It has helped me survive the complexity of federal procurement, allowing me to grow my Maryland business. I am immensely grateful I had the opportunity to attend.”
Since launching in 2009, the program has graduated more than 1,300 students in the U.S. VIP will facilitate six classes next year – three starter classes for those interested in federal contracting, two classes on expanding contracts, and one class focused on the international market.
State financing assistance
Here at Maryland Commerce, we provide small business financing through our Military Personnel and Veteran-Owned Small Business No-Interest Loan Program (MPVSBLP). Over the summer, we announced the growth of three local businesses – SRL Total Source, LLC (Waldorf); Samson Protection Services, LLC (Upper Marlboro); and PLAYLive Nation (Annapolis) – that each received $50,000 in financing. Together, the veteran-owned companies plan to create a total of 75 new jobs throughout the state.
The no-interest loan program, which is administered in consultation with the Maryland Department of Veteran Affairs, provides loans ranging from $1,000 to $50,000. Veterans, military reservists, and National Guard members who own a business are eligible to apply. The program also accepts applications from small businesses that employ military reservists and National Guard members called to active duty, as well as companies owned by or employing service-disabled veterans.
For more information, contact program manager Celester Hall at 410-767-6356.
Aiding veteran-owned businesses
After retiring in 2014, Major Emmett Roberts began networking throughout the U.S. to gain insight into federal contracting and help develop his business. But he quickly noticed one key similarity in most of his discussions—the lack of resources available for veteran-owned businesses.
With this realization, he collaborated with fellow local veterans and launched the Maryland Veterans Chamber of Commerce (MDVCC) in May 2018.