Editor’s note: Steve S. Rao is a Council Member At Large and Former Mayor Pro Tem for the Town of Morrisville and an Opinion Writer for WRAL Tech Wire. He served on the Board of the New American Economy, now the American Immigration Council, and on the NC League of Municipalities Race and Equity Task Force. He is a regular contributing writer to WRAL TechWire.
Note to readers: WRAL TechWire would like to hear from you about views expressed by our contributors. Please send email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
MORRISVILLE – A few months ago, I wrote about the importance of leveling the playing field for minority and disadvantaged businesses. Another group which needs our continued support and investment is our veteran owned business community.
As my late father in law, Hasmukh Parekh, a retired Col. in the United States Airforce told be many years ago, we need to celebrate our Veterans every day, not just on Veterans Day and Memorial Day. In my role as an elected official, I have been challenging our local governments and Chambers of Commerce, to do more to help veterans.
One way for us to honor veterans is to provide mentoring, support, and more resources to veteran companies.
North Carolina ranks No. 10 for veteran-owned businesses. In the Old North State, 6.9% of all businesses are owned by veterans — a total of 11,728 businesses employing 198,705 workers. That equates to an annual revenue of $5 billion or more per year. Nationally, New Hampshire scored first with 9.3%, followed by Virginia (8.8%) and Georgia (8.1%).
One organization in our state is focused on helping our veteran companies. The North Carolina Veterans Business Association, founded in 2008, by veteran business owners registered to do business in our great state continues its mission to connect, educate and support veterans in commerce in North Carolina. It’s members are a diverse group of businesses; construction, marketing, education and professional services, information technology and mechanical services just to name a few. The associations primary objective is to provide opportunities to ensure the health, longevity and success of our North Carolina veteran owned businesses.
A few months ago, the organization, hosted the Veteran Procurement Summit at NC State, where they provided seminars on how to do business with the federal government, and connected veteran owned companies with procurement executives at local companies. The event was a real success, with SBA Southeast Director Allen Thomas inspiring many in attendance, focusing his remarks on the significant investments the SBA is making in investments in access to capital and contracting opportunities for minority and veteran owned companies.
On Friday you have another opportunity to support Veterans by getting out your golf clubs as The NC Vet Business Association is conducting their annual networking and connecting golf tournament in Wake Forest on October 13th at the Heritage golf course. Last week, Board Member Lindsay Hinger reminded me that “this will be a fun event for all levels to engage with fellow business leaders in the triangle.”
Register at www.ncvetbiz.org.