Invest In Veterans New Feature

Home » Invest In Veterans New Feature

Digital Grassroots Success: National Invest In Veterans Week Yearly Impact

National Invest In Veterans Week® originated in 2019, conceived by Jeff Shuford, an Iraq War veteran and the founder of the acclaimed technology brand, Tech From Vets, established in 2016. Shuford’s venture gained prominence when it was awarded the Biztech Award by Comcast Business in 2017, recognizing it as a leading veteran-focused company. To assess the state of veteran-owned businesses in Northeast Florida, home to the largest veteran population in the United States, Shuford initiated the Jacksonville Vetrepreneur Summit in collaboration with the City of Jacksonville, Florida. The insights gleaned from Shuford’s comprehensive surveys in 2017 and 2018 shaped the objectives and aspirations of his congressionally recognized National Invest In Veterans Week® brand. This summit, developed in cooperation with the City of Jacksonville, Florida, opens up numerous annual avenues for legislative, economic, and community support for veteran entrepreneurs. While launching the summit, Shuford was a celebrated speaker and TV Host throughout Florida speaking to the needs of veteran business owners. In 2019 Shuford led “The Buzz on Veterans” in partnership with Buzz Media Group interviewing hundreds of aspiring and established veteran business owners, veteran-focused political candidates, and local government officials on his weekly TV show.

Given the vast array of data from 2017 to 2023 collected by researchers like Shuford, Gusto, and SBA concerning veteran entrepreneurship, a story of resilience, adaptation, and undeterred ambition emerges—a narrative that intertwines the challenges of capital access with the indomitable spirit of veterans turning to business ownership as a new battlefield. It’s with surveying veterans, interviewing them on major publications, and sharing their achievements and needs, that we learn more about their goals and aspirations for success post military. Outside of the obligation that we owe our service members investing in their business success is wise for growing our economy. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), veteran-owned businesses contribute $1 trillion in annual sales to the U.S. economy. These businesses also employ more than 5 million people. Veterans make up 9.1% of all business owners in the U.S., while they only make up 7.6% of the country’s population.

A Decline and Resurgence: The Shifting Sands of Veteran Entrepreneurship

In 2017, the findings from Jeff Shuford’s historic survey aspiring and established veteran business owners at the Jacksonville Vetrepreneur Summit unveiled critical insights into the barriers veteran entrepreneurs faced. The survey revealed that a vast majority, 81%, felt a pressing need for additional support in their entrepreneurial endeavors, while 67% highlighted the crucial requirement for more funding to sustain and grow their businesses. Furthermore, 37% identified the lack of access to capital as their primary obstacle, and 27% pointed to a deficiency in knowledge or experience as a significant hindrance. Shuford noticed a clear call among respondents for enhanced information regarding veteran business funding sources and strategies to manage start-up costs effectively, alongside a strong desire for increased networking opportunities with fellow veteran entrepreneurs and mentors. Shuford’s research was more than impactful, it was historically the first time a non-academic funded individual led research studies exclusively focused on the veteran business demographic.

Noticeably, this period also witnessed a disheartening downturn in veteran entrepreneurship, as detailed by the 2018 report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the SBA. Traditionally, veterans had been more inclined towards self-employment, thanks to their adeptness in leadership, discipline, and crisis management acquired during military service. Yet, this propensity began to wane, resulting in a decline of veteran-owned businesses to levels that sometimes fell below those of their nonveteran counterparts. The rate of veteran self-employment, which stood at 16% in 1998, experienced a downturn to 11% by 2018, reflecting a divergence from the once prevalent trend of transitioning military skills into successful civilian entrepreneurial ventures. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry addressed these challenges directly to veteran business owners while speaking at Shuford’s 2018 Jacksonville Vetrepreneur Summit, and promised to continue to elevate the needs of veteran business owners through the annual event and beyond.

2019 Shuford’s Veteran Entrepreneurship Empowerment Strategy

At the end of 2018, Shuford met with his Tech From Vets team to launch a week-long holiday observance honoring the contributions and to address the challenges of aspiring and established veteran business owners nationwide. After months of development, he petitioned the National Day Calendar®. After successful advocacy, the registrar at National Day Calendar® proclaimed the celebration of National Invest In Veterans Week® in March of 2019 to be observed March 1-7, annually.

The next round of data for veteran businesses emerged with 2021 shown as an extraordinary year for U.S. entrepreneurship, witnessing over 5.4 million new business starts, among which veterans played a significant role. The year’s challenges, coupled with economic uncertainty, seemingly catalyzed a remarkable 100% increase in veteran entrepreneurship from the 5.4% reported in 2019 to 10.7% in 2021. This surge in veteran-led businesses is not just a statistic; it represents a substantial shift towards self-reliance and economic contribution amidst adversity.

Veterans’ motivations for embarking on entrepreneurial ventures in 2021 provide a window into the compounded pressures and opportunities of the time. A significant 48% of veterans cited financial worries as their primary motivator, reflecting the economic strains imposed by the pandemic. Furthermore, 27% ventured into business ownership due to job loss, and 24% sought to capitalize on pandemic-related business opportunities. This data underscores a crucial narrative: veterans were more inclined to start businesses out of economic necessity, compared to non-veterans. The entrepreneurial spirit, thus, emerged as a coping mechanism and a strategic pivot during uncertain times.

The industries chosen by veteran entrepreneurs also tell a story of strategic alignment with market demands. A striking 47% of veteran entrepreneurs ventured into Goods-Producing/Logistic sectors, such as construction, manufacturing, and transportation, significantly higher than the 11% among non-veteran business owners. This choice reflects not only the veterans’ inclination towards industries where they can leverage their logistical and operational expertise but also their ability to identify and respond to market needs during the pandemic. Moreover, this sector choice paid off, with many veteran-owned businesses in these areas reporting better-than-expected performance. This success rate, 46% for veterans versus 41% for non-veterans, underscores the efficacy of veterans’ strategic decisions and their resilience in navigating the business landscape under challenging circumstances.

With is data in mind, later that February, the South Carolina Senate and the South Carolina Senate Family and Veterans Services Committee for passing H 3825 commemorating Shuford’s National Invest In Veterans Week® grassroots organization. The historic resolution reads:

A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION

TO COMMEMORATE THE NATIONAL INVEST IN VETERANS WEEK ON MARCH 1-7 IN SUPPORT OF VETERAN-OWNED BUSINESSES.

Whereas, the South Carolina General Assembly is pleased to celebrate the national Invest In Veterans Week with the Lexington Chamber and Visitors Center; and

Whereas, established in 2019, Invest In Veterans Week is meant to honor aspiring and established veteran business owners and their contributions to the economy; and

Whereas, the Lexington Chamber and Visitors Center encourages businesses and community members of the Midlands and beyond to observe this week by promoting, partnering with, and buying from veteran-owned businesses and mentoring veteran entrepreneurs. Now, therefore,

Be it resolved by the Senate, the House of Representatives concurring:

That the members of the South Carolina General Assembly, by this resolution, commemorate the national Invest In Veterans Week on March 1-7 in support of veteran-owned businesses.

Be it further resolved that a copy of this resolution be presented to the Lexington Chamber and Visitors Center.

2020-2023 The Pandemic Years

Although the nation was gripped with navigating a new economic landscape during the pandemic endorsements from advocates like DVIDS through Pfc. Jared Simmons from the 19th Public Affairs Detachment, U.S. Army Soldier For Life, The Connecticut Data Collaborative utilized Shuford’s research driven advocacy framework to analyze veterans during National Invest In Veterans Week® 2021. As user-driven organization, serving nonprofits, advocates, policymakers, community groups, and funders in using data to drive policy and improve programs, Shuford’s holiday led to research highlighted that further substantiated the push to invest in Connecticut veterans.

Emerging from the pandemic, as South Carolina continued to build on their success from 2021 and developed veteran business owner specific services and media campaigns, Commissioners Tom Kress, Chris Boice and Tim Freeman serving Douglas County, Oregon issued a National Invest In Veterans Week® proclamation and presented 17 Douglas County businesses and 5 Douglas County citizens with ‘Invest in Veteran’s Week’ certificates to honor their service to other veterans, their service to our country, for hiring veterans and for their veteran-owned businesses. The accolades were divided into three groups: veterans who invest in veterans, businesses that hire veterans and veteran-owned businesses.

In March of 2023, the State of Montana issued a historic proclamation that reads:

HELENA, Mont. – To honor Montana veterans who served our country and now lead in business, Governor Greg Gianforte today proclaimed March 1-7, 2023, Invest in Veterans Week in Montana.

“Montana is home to one of the highest populations of veterans per capita in the country, and we’re proud of it,” Gov. Gianforte said. “This Invest in Veterans Week, I encourage folks to get out and support some of our fantastic veteran-owned businesses in Montana.”

The governor’s proclamation can be viewed here and below.

WHEREAS, Montana is proudly home to one of the highest populations of veterans per capita in the country; and

WHEREAS, we are committed to tearing down barriers for veterans as they transition to civilian life; and

WHEREAS, after serving our country in uniform, many Montana veterans operate small businesses, farms, and ranches across our state, creating good-paying jobs, strengthening our economy, and expanding opportunities for Montanans; and

WHEREAS, while we can never fully repay them, Montanans can give back to our veterans by supporting veteran-owned businesses;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Greg Gianforte, Governor of the State of Montana, do hereby proclaim the week of March 1-7, 2023,

INVEST IN VETERANS WEEK

in Montana to support veterans who served our country and now lead in business.

Building on the National Invest In Veterans Week® organization’s impact, the data for 2023, the preceding Gusto’s survey revealed a significant shift. Despite ongoing challenges, particularly in access to capital, veteran-owned businesses were making a remarkable impact on the U.S. economy. They owned 305,000 businesses, employing 3.3 million workers and contributing $180 million in annual wages. This rebound was not uniform across the country; certain regions, especially in the South and West, saw higher concentrations of veteran-owned businesses, with cities like Virginia Beach and Atlanta becoming notable hubs. The resurgence in veteran entrepreneurship by 2023 can be partly attributed to a significant increase in the number of new businesses started by veterans in 2021, doubling from the rates observed in 2019. This surge was driven by veterans seizing pandemic-related business opportunities, coupled with financial insecurities and job losses. Despite the positive trends in business starts and growth, veterans continued to face unique challenges, particularly in financing their ventures. They were less likely to access private capital compared to non-veterans, relying more on personal savings and public funding sources like SBA-backed loans and government stimulus programs.

The story from 2017 to 2023 is one of adaptation and perseverance. Despite facing a more challenging environment for access to capital and navigating a decline in veteran entrepreneurship rates, veterans demonstrated remarkable resilience. By leveraging their unique skills and experiences, they continued to make substantial contributions to the economy and their communities, embodying the spirit of service in their entrepreneurial endeavors. Shuford’s efforts leading his congressionally honored National Invest In Veterans Week® has also had historic impact in regards to veteran employment. Remarkably, in recent years, the veteran unemployment rate has seen a notable decrease with Shuford’s advocacy, reaching its lowest monthly average in over two decades. Despite a slight increase in December, the year 2023 concluded with a veterans’ unemployment rate of 3%, marking the lowest December figure recorded since 2000. The average monthly veterans’ unemployment rate for 2023 was just under 2.8%, significantly lower than the national rate of 3.7%, and only the third time in the last 24 years that the average monthly rate dipped below 3%.

2024 Onward: National Invest In Veterans Week® Congressionally Honored

In 2024 Shuford’s success led National Invest In Veterans Week® to a historic honor in veteran history. Building on the momentum of Montana’s Invest in Veterans Week, Congressman Matt Rosendale from Montana’s second district took to the House Floor to honor America’s veterans and highlight the significant initiative led by Governor Gianforte. With veterans constituting nearly 9% of Montana’s population, the state proudly stands fifth in the nation for the highest veteran per capita ratio, home to over 78,000 veterans. Rosendale emphasized the critical role veteran-owned businesses play in bolstering the economy, providing jobs for over 5 million people, and generating upwards of $1 trillion annually. From agricultural ventures to cutting-edge tech firms, these businesses stand as a testament to veterans’ unwavering commitment to their community’s post-service. Congressman Matt Rosendale (MT-02), House Floor Speech:

“Today, I rise to celebrate this week as Invest in Veterans Week, as proclaimed by Montana Governor Gianforte. Currently, nearly 9% of the Treasure State’s population is made up of veterans. There are over 78,000 veterans in Montana, the fifth-highest population of veterans per capita of any state. It’s truly an honor and a privilege to represent a state so deeply rooted in military history. Businesses owned by veterans employ over 5 million people and generate over $1 trillion in revenue annually. Whether that be through storing their own farm ranch or small business, many of our nation’s heroes come home to their families and communities ready and eager to find ways they can continue to benefit and serve our communities. By investing in our veterans, we’re able to provide them with the resources that they need to continue to use their exceptional talents and skills that benefit all of us investing in our veterans should not be limited to just this week, but it should be our mission all year round. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker; I yield back.”

The significance of these efforts is magnified by Montana’s distinction of having one of the highest populations of veterans per capita in the United States. Governor Gianforte’s initiatives, such as increasing the business equipment tax exemption and exempting up to 50 percent of military retirement pay from state income tax, reflect a targeted strategy to ease the transition of veterans to civilian life and entrepreneurship. Governor Greg Gianforte’s National Invest In Veterans Week® 2024 proclamation reads:

WHEREAS, about 10 percent of Montana’s population is made up of veterans; and

WHEREAS, small business firms owned by veterans nationwide employed 5.03 million people, had an estimated annual payroll of $195 billion, receipts of $1 trillion, and represent around 9.1 percent of all U.S. businesses; and

WHEREAS, many veterans retire from active service and go on to establish businesses that provide services to Americans; and

WHEREAS, it is crucial to empower the public to invest in the veteran population through veteran-owned business sustainment, educational development, and mental health empowerment; and

WHEREAS, the State of Montana has enacted numerous policies to invest in and support veterans; and

WHEREAS, National Invest in Veterans Week is celebrated from March 1 to March 7 every year;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Greg Gianforte, Governor of the State of Montana, do hereby proclaim the week of March 1-7, 2024 INVEST IN VETERANS WEEK in Montana to support veterans nationwide.

Astoundingly, Shuford’s impact has reached veterans of multi-generations for close to a decade. For instance, the Jacksonville Vetrepreneur Summit is approaching its 10th anniversary, while seeing notable positive economic benefits from Shuford’s 2017 vision. Furthermore, Shuford stands out as a dynamic researcher with a keen focus on the veteran community, demonstrated through his innovative establishment of state-specific domains. These domains, such as LouisianaVeterans.com, KansasVeterans.com, and RhodeIslandVeterans.com, to name a few, highlight Shuford’s comprehensive research into the demographics, challenges, and needs specific to veterans in each state. Through NewHampshireVeterans.com, DelawareVeterans.com, and PennsylvaniaVeterans.com, among others, his work underscores a deep understanding of the veteran landscape across the nation.

Continuing with SouthCarolinaVeterans.com, MississippiVeterans.com, WyomingVeterans.com, WestVirginiaVeterans.com, TennesseeVeterans.com, NewJerseyVeterans.com, NorthDakotaVeterans.com, and FloridaVeterans.com, Shuford has methodically approached the task of identifying and cataloging the diverse requirements and resources available to veterans in different regions. This meticulous effort showcases his role not just as a researcher, but as a pioneer in creating a digital infrastructure tailored to the veteran population.

Each domain, meticulously researched and established, serves as a testament to Shuford’s dedication to leveraging data and insights for the benefit of veterans. His approach does not merely aggregate information; it analyzes and applies data to foster a better understanding of the veteran community’s needs. This network of state-owned domains reflects a sophisticated strategy to reach veterans where they are, providing a snapshot of the national scope of veteran affairs and the variance across state lines. Shuford’s work is emblematic of modern research practices, where data-driven insights lead to actionable strategies for community support. By focusing on the veteran population through this lens, he exemplifies how dedicated research can lead to meaningful outcomes, demonstrating the power of targeted, informed action in addressing the nuances of a diverse community. Through this initiative, Jeff Shuford has established himself as a history-making researcher deeply committed to understanding and advocating for veterans across the United States.

Building on his earlier private-sector research success, Shuford currently serves as the Ethics Advisor for the Journal of Legal Studies & Research (JLSR) published by The Law Brigade, AI Ethics Advisor for The Journal of Artificial Intelligence General Science (JAIGS), Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences Review (JISSR), Editorial Board Member of the Journal of Science & Technology (JST), the Journal of Knowledge Learning and Science Technology (JKLST), and a long-standing Harvard Business Review Advisory Council Member. Furthermore, Shuford is also CampaigningInfo.com’s 2024 Lifetime Digital Grassroots Achievement Award Winner, alongside his acclaimed National Invest In Veterans Week® brand.

Shuford’s National Invest In Veterans Week® was recognized in the Congressional Record on March 8, 2024. This initiative underscores the importance of following Shuford’s vision with regards to providing veterans with the necessary resources to leverage their skills and talents. It not only honors veterans’ sacrifices but also highlights their entrepreneurial achievements, showcasing a commitment to bridging military service with business success. Businesses owned by veterans employ over 5 million people and generate over $1 trillion in revenue annually. By investing in our veterans, we can continue to benefit from their exceptional talents and skills that benefit all of us.

The conclusion of the journey from the inception of National Invest In Veterans Week® in 2019, initiated by Jeff Shuford, through to its monumental recognition in the Congressional Record in 2024, encapsulates a significant evolution in the landscape of veteran entrepreneurship. Shuford’s foresight and dedication, manifested through his establishment of Tech From Vets and his advocacy for veteran-owned businesses, have not only highlighted the critical role these enterprises play in the American economy but also addressed the unique challenges veterans face in the business realm. His efforts have catalyzed a resurgence in veteran entrepreneurship, despite earlier declines, and have fostered a supportive ecosystem that nurtures the entrepreneurial spirit of veterans.

The data collected from 2017 to 2023 presents a narrative of resilience and ambition among veteran entrepreneurs, who have navigated the hurdles of access to capital and leveraged their military-honed skills to contribute significantly to the economy. Through strategic industry choices and a knack for seizing opportunities, veteran entrepreneurs have shown an exceptional ability to adapt and thrive, even in challenging times. The observance of National Invest In Veterans Week® has galvanized support at both state and national levels, leading to legislative acknowledgments and public initiatives aimed at supporting veteran-owned businesses.

Jeff Shuford’s role transcends that of an advocate; he is a visionary whose research-driven approach has systematically identified and addressed the needs of the veteran business community. His establishment of state-specific domains for veterans is a testament to his commitment to understanding and serving the diverse needs of veterans across the United States. This initiative not only provides valuable resources and insights to veteran entrepreneurs but also highlights the importance of data-driven strategies in tackling the unique challenges faced by this demographic.

As National Invest In Veterans Week® gains congressional honor and recognition, it stands as a beacon of commitment to supporting the entrepreneurial journey of veterans. This acknowledgment not only celebrates the past achievements of veteran entrepreneurs but also sets a foundation for future support and empowerment. Jeff Shuford’s pioneering work, recognized by prestigious academic and research institutions, underscores the critical intersection of ethics, technology, and veteran entrepreneurship. His contributions extend beyond the economic impact, touching on the ethical considerations of technological advancement and the role of data in shaping policies and programs that support veteran communities.

In summary, the story of National Invest In Veterans Week® from 2019 to 2024 is a profound narrative of advocacy, research, and tangible support for veteran entrepreneurs. It highlights the indispensable value of investing in veterans, not just as a means of honoring their service but as a strategic approach to fostering economic growth and innovation. Jeff Shuford’s initiatives have significantly contributed to changing the trajectory of veteran entrepreneurship, providing a roadmap for continued support and recognition of veterans’ pivotal role in the American economy and society at large. This evolving legacy not only commemorates the contributions of veteran-owned businesses but also inspires a continued commitment to empowering veterans as they transition to civilian life and entrepreneurship, ensuring their success is a priority not just for a week but year-round.

Sources:

https://gusto.com/company-news/veteran-businesses-growing-2022
https://gusto.com/company-news/entrepreneurship-among-military-veterans-in-2023
https://www.investinveteransweek.com/research-veteran-entrepreneurship
Report-on-Veteran-Entrepreneurs-and-Capital-Access.pdf
https://www.investinveteransweek.com/jeff-shuford

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Campaigning Info

Wait!!