Archive | August, 2017

Veterans Business Outreach Center Supports Veteran Entrepreneurs in the U.S. Virgin Islands

24 Aug

USVI B2B Reboot 2017 Day 6 005The Veteran Business Outreach Center (VBOC) at Community Business Partnership in Springfield, VA, recently held two 1-Day Boots to Business Reboot workshops on St. Thomas and St. Croix for 22 members of the military community. We were delighted to provide the training in collaboration with the local SBA office and their resource partners from the University of the Virgin Islands SBDC network (http://www.sbdcvi.org/).

Boots to Business|Reboot (https://www.sba.gov/offices/headquarters/ovbd) is an entrepreneurial training program designed for Veterans and their dependents that have already made the transition back to civilian life. The curriculum includes steps for evaluating business concepts, the foundational knowledge required to develop a business plan and information on SBA resources available to help access start-up capital and additional technical assistance. Veterans of all eras, plus Service members (including National Guard and Reserves) and their spouses are eligible to enroll in classes.

This was the VBOC’s second trip to the Virgin Islands in the past year and we have provided small business start-up education to nearly 50 attendees representing: Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy, National Guard, active duty, Veterans, reservists, military spouses, and their families. It’s gratifying to see first-hand that word is spreading throughout the military community on the islands about all the programs and services that the SBA and its partners offer. We were thrilled to learn that they have started a local SCORE chapter and are working with the Defense Logistics Agency to open a Procurement and Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) in the near future.

Now I know what you may be thinking – what a boondoggle!  But wait – when you consider that the Caribbean islands are home to more Veterans per capita than anywhere in the U.S. – it makes sense that the VBOC would be there to support our military community. The economy on the islands is struggling with an unemployment rate of 10.6 (and increasing) and it’s going to take local entrepreneurs (and those who support them) to chart a path for recovery and success.

The U.S. Virgin Islands is best known for its powder-fine beaches and turquoise bays, a constant draw for the tourists who frequent this tiny American territory. But away from the beaches the mood is depressed, as government officials scramble to stave off the same kind of fiscal collapse that has already engulfed its neighbor, Puerto Rico. While the public debts of the Virgin Islands are much smaller than those of Puerto Rico – which effectively declared bankruptcy in May of this year – so too is its population; and therefore, its ability to pay down the debt places a larger burden on the residents. This tropical territory of roughly 100,000 people owes nearly $6.5 billion to pensioners and creditors.

For decades, this distant cluster of islands in the Caribbean have played a critical role as American listening posts, fueling and staging grounds and practice bombing ranges. The military presence buoyed their small economies, and a federal tax subsidy made it relatively easy for them to issue bonds. Over the years, they have collectively borrowed billions of dollars to build roads, run schools, treat drinking water and fund hospitals.

Now, a combination of factors – insufficient tax revenue, a weak pension system, the closure of military bases and loss of a major employer, and a new reluctance in the markets to lend the Virgin Islands any more money – has made it almost impossible for the government to meet its obligations. In January, the Virgin Islands found itself unable to borrow and nearly out of funds for basic government operations.

For entrepreneurs: problem + solution = business opportunity.

Many local entrepreneurs see new chances to reverse historical patterns, and to address issues with food, health, education and infrastructure while bringing new industries to the islands. Agribusiness and sustainability, ecotourism, recycling and alternative energy, and a growing interest in fusion cuisine offer opportunities for new ventures.

We worked with several active business owners, while supporting other students who were in the initial phase of thinking about what product or service might be feasible.  Businesses ranged from fashion and food-makers to coffee roasters and fitness and nutrition consulting to agricultural suppliers and government contractors.  These entrepreneurs face a long and challenging road ahead – but the SBA and its resource partners will be there to assist them.

 

Advertisements

Knowing What’s Important…

4 Aug

Wednesday, July 26, 2017 at 5:29 PM

Charles,

Our team is looking forward to the meeting tomorrow at 10am! I know it has been on our schedule for 2 months, unfortunately, an important meeting came up for me and I can’t attend.

Thanks,

Name Withheld to Protect the Guilty

http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-cancel-a-meeting-without-pissing-anyone-off-2010-5