At the Alexandria Small Business Development Center, we’re always looking for new ways to support Alexandria businesses. We continually seek opportunities to partner with members of the community and to identify new initiatives. We’re very excited about our newest program: the Alexandria Veterans Business Enterprise Center (AVBEC).
In 2013, Alexandria veterans, government agencies, non-profits, and local businesses joined together to discuss how the City could better support its veterans. The group recognized that the defense drawdown represented an opportunity to grow our regional economy if the City could attract top veteran talent to join our workforce and start new businesses.
The group also acknowledged that there are hundreds of private companies, nonprofits, and government programs that support veterans during their transition from the military and beyond. From the veteran’s perspective, the sheer magnitude of potential options can be quite overwhelming.
What would it take to for veterans to be successful in business, integrated into the local business community, and contributing to the City and region’s economic growth? The answer is the AVBEC.
AVBEC’s mission is to create an ideal community for veterans to open a business, build a business, or start a new career through transition support, assistance for entrepreneurs, and enduring support for professional needs. The program is a regional hub for veterans in business, connecting them to existing programs and resources, providing opportunities to engage with other veterans and businesses, and creating a space where veterans can collaborate and share information.
AVBEC has partnered with local, state, and national organizations and businesses to provide services to veterans. This includes the Virginia Department of Veterans Affairs, SCORE, Boots to Business, and other well-regarded programs. In building these partnerships, AVBEC is able to be a “one stop shop” for veterans as they seek the appropriate resources.
As a program of the Alexandria SBDC, veterans also have access to objective and highly-regarded business guidance. The center’s resources include one-to-one counseling, educational programs, and a robust online interactive resource library. AVBEC clients can take advantage of the center’s existing connections with the business community.
One of the most innovative parts of the program is the AVBEC incubator, now being constructed adjacent to the Alexandria Small Business Development Center. As one of the only veteran business incubators in the country, this center will give veterans a physical space to collaborate and share information as they start a business or launch their careers.
In addition to entrepreneurial support, AVBEC also facilitates veteran hiring. Veterans who are transitioning will be connected to resources to help them identify potential career paths and opportunities. There really is something for every veteran at the AVBEC.
AVBEC leverages all of the SBDC’s existing relationships and has established new partnerships to provide a comprehensive array of resources and services focused on veterans – whatever their priorities or concerns. I encourage all veterans to contact AVBEC now to take advantage of this fantastic resource that Alexandria is offering.
For more information, visit the AVBEC website at www.AlexandriaVeterans.org.
This column originally appeared in the Alexandria Times on August 28th, 2014.