Business Boot Camp Gives Veterans A New Start

Mar 1, 2012

The pullout of American troops in Iraq and those returning from Afghanistan have brought many service members back to their families and into the civilian job market.

While there is a new law that offers incentives to employers who hire them, many veterans across the country are trying to start their own businesses. A rigorous, free program started at Syracuse University is giving them the tools to be their own boss.

Black Knights Services

A version of this story aired on NPR's "All Things Considered" on February 29, 2012

A few months ago, WNPR reported on a unique training program for veterans at the University of Connecticut. A consortium of business schools run The Entreprenuership Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities, which teaches veterans to be their own boss.

As part of our Coming Home project, WNPR's Lucy Nalpathanchil follows up with an EBV grad who is now a small business-owner.

Harriet Jones

The City of Stamford hopes to attract high-tech entrepreneurs with a new initiative to convert its Old Town Hall into a business incubator. 

Stamford’s gracious, marble-lined Old Town Hall occupies some prime real estate in the center of town, but it hasn’t served as a hub for the town since the 1960s. Now it’s bustling once again.

“It’s a center of gravity and it works for the whole community.”

Sujata Srinivasan

Last year’s jobs bill set aside $100 million as a loan pool to help small businesses grow and create jobs. It’s dubbed the Small Business Express Package, and applicants were promised a quick turnaround. State officials have been touring the state to explain the program to businesses that might benefit. But as WNPR’s Sujata Srinivasan reports, they have yet to finalize a loan.

Harriet Jones

If you want to start your own business, your age may be a critical factor in your success. But not in the way you might imagine. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Picture an entrepreneur. Are you thinking of a young, intense 20-something, up all night writing computer code? The reality, more often than not, is at the other end of the age spectrum.

“This is my place of business, which is two filing cabinets and a used laptop and a used monitor. Starting a new business you’ve really got to improvise.”

Chion Wolf

We keep hearing that the job prospects for young workers aren't very good. So, what if they start their own businesses? 

Today, we're live from the Oakdale Theater in Wallingford for the last Small Business Breakfast of the year. It's taking place as part of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce Business Expo.

Jeremy Pollack.

Recent college graduates are finding it difficult to get a job at a time when the national unemployment rate remains stagnant at nine percent. But imagine if you're a veteran just back from serving overseas. You're trying to find employment while carrying the physical and mental effects of war. A consortium of schools including the University of Connecticut are helping turn disabled veterans into small business-owners. As part of WNPR's Coming Home Project, Lucy Nalpathanchil introduces us to a entrepreneurship 'bootcamp'.

Harriet Jones

Connecticut’s Small Business Development Center – the SBDC – has been using federal funds to provide help and advice to companies in the state for some 30 years. Now it’s re-organized itself to be closer to the entrepreneurial community. WNPR’s Harriet Jones visited with one of the center’s new regional representatives.

This is Three Rivers Community College in Norwich. It’s the home base for a new adviser for the Connecticut Small Business Development Center.

Flickr Creative Commons, renaissancechambara

There's something funny about some infomercials. We wasted a certain amount of office time today studying a kind of curved stick that one attaches toilet paper to so that one can extend one's reach. 

Thomas MacMillan Photo

People told Giuliana Maravalle she was crazy when she moved her piano bar and gelato factory to a neglected industrial warehouse on Sargent Drive. One year later, she’s ready to expand the business with a new country and western bar, and people are eating her “artisanal” Italian treat from the Boston Symphony to JFK airport thanks to the work of a dozen additional employees.

courtesy eGen

Connecticut would like to reinvent itself as the next Silicon Valley. Some economic development experts say our future lies with the state’s small technology companies. If that’s to become a reality, Connecticut’s universities will have to be a key part of the change. A conference today at UConn aims to show the way. 

Photo: bodycoach2, Flickr Creative Commons

Starting a business from scratch is a mammoth undertaking. Starting a business in the midst of a bad economy might seem like an impossible task. But entrepreneurship traditionally spikes in any recession – and this latest downturn was no exception. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Christina Kazanas used to be the principal grantwriter for the City of Stratford. Her friend Rebekah Harriman wrote grants for the City of Bridgeport.