VetsEntrepreneurship2012-BDCTour_09smVeterans interested in taking a business concept from idea to reality are the targeted recruits for the 2013 Veterans Entrepreneurship Program at UTC.   The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga College of Business will once again host this model program, free to disabled and service-distinguished veterans who qualify.  The program is focused on the basics of starting or growing your own business.

The Veterans Entrepreneurship Program (VEP) at UTC is modeled after the successful VEP at Oklahoma State University, a cutting edge, experiential training program in entrepreneurship and small business management.  The creation of the VEP at UTC is a direct response to the unique challenges of service disabled veterans for whom the unemployment rate is above 11%.   The program speaks directly to a veteran, saying you can build your own venture, work for yourself, provide for your family, and potentially hire other veterans.  It’s a compelling opportunity for those who have served our country, but for whom a traditional  9-to-5 job may be a challenge due to their disability status.

UTC is currently recruiting potential candidates for this year’s program, to run May 2013-May 2014.  The Veterans Entrepreneurship Program includes a five-week online study program; an eight-day intensive, on-campus entrepreneurial boot camp; and 10 months of follow-up mentoring to ensure a successful business launch.  The goal of the program is to foster the creation of successful, profitable business ventures among disabled veterans and to advance the growth and commercial competitiveness of local and regional veteran-owned enterprises.

“Our philosophy is to train vets to create their own ventures, which in turn create jobs and add to the economic development of our community,” states Dr. Robert Dooley, Dean, UTC College of Business.

April 1, 2013, is the deadline for applications, from which 20 veterans will be chosen to participate, free of charge, in the VEP.  The program begins with an online self-study program to further develop business concepts.  From July 20-27, 2013, VEP delegates will arrive on the UTC campus for an intensive eight-day, hands-on boot camp focused on all aspects of business growth and development, from accounting and cash flow management to guerilla marketing and human resource issues.  A mentoring program follows the boot camp, with support from Chattanooga Rotary groups, UTC faculty and local business volunteers. There is no charge to participants for any aspect of the program, including transportation, food and lodging.

Mark Kidwell, a veteran Ranger with the U.S. Army and 2012 VEP delegate, says “The VEP helped me understand and identify the process and tasks required to start-up and run my own business.  I came into this program right out of the Military and without any college education. The professors and instructors from UTC and other universities were extremely insightful and gave me so much knowledge …it literally is like drinking from a fire hose!”  Mark is now enrolled at Chattanooga State and plans to transfer to UTC as a business major to pursue his dream of owning his own business.

The boot camp courses are led by UTC faculty in Accounting, Finance, Entrepreneurship, Management, and Marketing who teach in conjunction with faculty from Oklahoma State University’s School of Entrepreneurship.  The VEP at UTC is sponsored in part by SunTrust Bank Foundation as well as individual donors and promotional partners such as the Tennessee Veterans Business Association (www.tnveteransbiz.com ).  A benefit concert to support the VEP will take place on May 2nd, in honor of Armed Forces Day, at Engel Stadium and will feature the Charlie Daniels Band.

For more information on the Veterans Entrepreneurship Program, how to apply, or how to become a participating sponsor visit: http://www.utc.edu/VEP

The College of Business at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is a nationally ranked business school providing educational programs that produce academically prepared and business-world ready graduates for a competitive global environment. The College of Business has been AACSB internationally accredited since 1982 and is ranked as one of the top business schools nationwide by both Bloomberg BusinessWeek and the Princeton Review, educating over 2,250 students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

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