You are currently viewing VETERAN OWNED BUSINESSES: Resources Available to Entrepreneurial Vets

VETERAN OWNED BUSINESSES: Resources Available to Entrepreneurial Vets

By Mary Beth Roach

Discipline, leadership abilities, knowledge in handling equipment and budgets, the ability to assess risk, understanding the value of teamwork, are attributes that the military can instill in the men and women who serve.

For veterans who dream of starting a new business, these qualities can serve them well, according to Barb Carson, managing director of programs and services at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families on the Syracuse University campus.

However, there are some aspects of military life that can pose obstacles for vets as they try to start up a company.

Because military personnel get transferred often, they may not have the ability to establish networks in any one location. Even those returning to their hometowns after their stint may find that things have changed a lot, Carson noted. And often, because they move a lot, they may also have had to change banks to handle financial transactions, which can impact credit ratings.

Helping to overcome these obstacles and develop opportunities is a number of programs available to veterans and others on their entrepreneurial journey.

Here are some of the programs available in Central New York:

• At IVMF, vets can get assistance in deciding which kind of business structure they should set up; whether they should consult with an attorney; if they have intellectual property that should be guarded; if they need a patent; or if a market exists for the business or product that they wish to create. Vets need not be enrolled at SU to take advantage of programs at the IVMF.

More information:

The Onondaga Small Business Development Center is set up to help not only veterans, but anyone interested in starting up a business. Mark Pitonzo, senior adviser with the organization, explained that the process begins with an intake form and each case is then assigned to an adviser, who walks the client through. They, too, will offer help in structuring the business, whether it should be an LLC, an S Corp or a DBA, for example. They will also help clients develop financial projections, balance sheets, cost analyses, and business plans, which are all documents that banks will want to see in determining loans. The SBDC also has a resource list, Pitonzo said, with accountants, attorneys, website developers and insurance brokers. Anyone on that list will provide a client with a free one-time consultation, Pitonzo added. His agency also has a research department, which can provide industry data and demographic information. Onondaga SBDC has offices in Onondaga, Cayuga, Cortland, Madison and Seneca counties. It recently started providing services in Oswego County as well.

More information:

The Keenan Center, located across from Le Moyne’s main campus, is a unique initiative that can offer potential entrepreneurs facilities and mentorship a jump start to their business ventures.

“Our mission is to serve Central New York. We’re supposed to build the entrepreneurial density of Central New York,” according to Doug Hill, founder and director of the Maker Institute at the Keenan Center.

The Institute has a variety of 3D printers; a vinyl cutter that can create T-shirts and stickers; a machine to carve wood and aluminum; and a radio station and a green screen, which currently broadcasts four podcasts a week. The school even hosts “Dolphin Tank,” patterned after television’s “Shark Tank,” but Le Moyne’s mascot is a dolphin, hence the change in the name. Through this program a select number of students are awarded seed money. Hill said that the center is open to the public and entrepreneurs are invited to visit the location at Springfield and Salt Springs Road.

More information:, then type Keenan Center in the search menu on top.

• At least one of the veterans we interviewed for this story found tremendous support from the annual VetCon conference that brings together state agencies, veteran-friendly businesses that are growing their state government experience and veterans in transition for opportunities in education, development and networking. This year’s event will be held Nov. 28-29 in Albany. Tickets and more information are available.

More information:

The WISE Women’s Business Center was established in 2006 and helps women build sustainable small businesses through services ranging from tailored training programs and classes to no-cost small business counseling. Hosted by The Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University and funded in part by the U.S. SBA, the local WISE WBC is on the lobby floor of the Equitable Tower in downtown Syracuse. Services are provided in-person and virtually to reach women across Cayuga, Cortland, Jefferson, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga and Oswego.

More information:

The SCORE program offers mentors, workshops, and other resources to help along the way, whether it’s starting or growing the business.

More information:

The U.S. Small Business Administration can also be a resource for a variety of programs.

More information: and type in veterans in the search box.


Veterans at the forefront in several area businesses

Chris Platt, Owner of Storm Power Solutions LLC, Pulaski

Eileen Baugh, Owner of Admin-On-Call, LLC, Syracuse

Corey Christman, Owner of Bravery Wines, Penn Yan

J. Vasquez, Owner of The Ship Yard, Oswego

Michael Bower, Owner OF Eagle Metalcraft Co., E. Syracuse

Chris Dambach, Owner of Industry Standard, Liverpool

William R. Barry, Owner of One Cut Above, LLC, Fulton

Gerald Searfoss, Owner of Black OPS BBQ, Brewerton

Steven Mollica, Co-owns of Fort Frisbee LLC, Fulton