UWF in the Community

Veterans Florida selects host partner university, network partners to deliver new veterans entrepreneurship program

Veterans Florida, a non-profit created by the Florida Legislature to attract and retain veterans, has selected five institutions of higher education to administer and deliver the Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program, a new entrepreneurial training initiative for veterans in the state seeking to start their own businesses. The funding for the program is made available through a $1 million appropriation by the Florida Legislature.

The University of West Florida, in conjunction with the Florida SBDC Network and Military Veterans Resource Center, was selected to administer the program. The University of West Florida, University of North Florida, Florida Gulf Coast University, Florida Atlantic University, and Hillsborough Community College will serve as network partners of the program. In this role, each institution will dedicate existing small business development resources to deliver the program, which is comprised of three phases:

  • Phase 1: An online entrepreneurial development training covering the basics of entrepreneurship
  • Phase 2: In-class training at one of the five participating institutions of higher education during which veterans will receive face-to-face instruction from business experts and refine their business concepts and plans
  • Phase 3: Ongoing mentorship and follow-up support from Florida SBDC business consultants to help veterans launch and run their business

“We are thrilled to be selected as the host partner for the Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program,” said Michael Myhre, CEO and Network State Director for the Florida SBDC. “The Florida SBDC Network and UWF are committed to serving the men and women who serve our country and are privileged to offer entrepreneurial training in their support. Our goal is to ensure our state’s servicemen and women have the necessary training and resources for their businesses to succeed.”

“The Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program offers veterans in the state access to high value, entrepreneurship education through our world-class state universities and colleges,” said Bobby Carbonell, Executive Director of Veterans Florida. “This education will empower the next generation of great veteran entrepreneurs to make lasting contributions to the state’s economy.”

The program is available to veterans who are active duty or have been honorably discharged; reside in Florida, or plan to locate to Florida; and demonstrate a strong interest in entrepreneurship. The program is provided at no cost. Travel expenses, including lodging and meals, for the on-site training will be covered for all participants.

Space is limited. The expected launch of the program website (www.FloridaVetBiz.org) is early February 2016, at which time the application will be available. For more information, please contact 850.898.3489 or info@FloridaVetBiz.org.

About the Florida SBDC Network: The Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance, is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2016. Since its inception, the Florida SBDC Network has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development to provide emerging and established business owners with management and technical assistance, enabling overall growth, increased profitability, and economic prosperity for the state. In 2014, the initiatives of the Florida SBDC Network resulted in 42,664 jobs created, retained and saved; $5.8 billion in sales growth; $140.2 million in capital accessed; $210.2 million in government contract awards; and 952 new businesses started. A statewide network of over 40 centers, the Florida SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Defense Logistics Agency, State of Florida and other private and public partners, with the University of West Florida serving as the network’s designated lead host institution. The Florida SBDC Network is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs. For more information, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org.

About Veterans Florida: Veterans Florida was established by the Florida Legislature in 2014 as part of the Florida GI Bill® to serve as an innovative corporation to encourage recently retired or separated military personnel to make Florida their permanent residence. The 501c(3) corporation will reinforce Florida’s standing as the most veteran-friendly state in the nation by helping veterans to bring or develop the skills needed by Florida businesses to the state. The board of directors is comprised of nine individuals from across the state. For more information, visit www.veteransflorida.org.

About the University of West Florida: Founded in 1963, the University of West Florida is a vibrant, distinctive institution of higher learning with undergraduate, graduate and targeted research programs. With multiple locations in Northwest Florida, the University serves a student population of more than 12,000. Dedicated to helping students realize their full potential, UWF favors small class sizes with quality teacher-scholars who deliver personalized, innovative, hands-on learning and leadership opportunities.

About the UWF MVRC: The UWF MVRC is committed to serving the educational and training needs of prospective and currently enrolled service members, veterans, their dependents, their survivors and others eligible to receive educational benefits under the various Department of Veteran Affairs programs. For more information about the MVRC, visit uwf.edu/militaryveterans.