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Loan program offers help for NC Veterans

Published 7:18am Wednesday, March 27, 2013

By Stephanie Carroll Carson

NC News Service

A new loan program offers help to North Carolina veterans who want to become entrepreneurs as they return home to a slow job market.

According to a report released late last week, one in 10 veterans of post 9/11 combat are without a job, leaving many to consider the possibility of starting their own business.

Two years ago, Steve Gill was in their shoes. A veteran, he paid for his business piece by piece because getting a loan isn’t always easy for service men and women.

“There’s a larger number that have some really unique skills and experience,” he said. “They have everything available as far as knowing what they can do. It really comes down, a lot of times, to the funding.”

Starting this month, the Support Center, a community development financial institution, is offering loans to North Carolina veterans. Unlike traditional bank loans, equity is not required. Instead, the center is looking for people with solid business plans.

In 2012, 250,000 veterans returned home to North Carolina from active duty. According to the U.S. Small Business administration, 25 percent of transitioning veterans want to start their own business.

Lenwood Long, president and CEO of the Support Center, said veterans often have an ideal skill set to start a business.

“They bring not only skills but a certain maturity level,” he said. “This whole notion of self sufficiency. They don’t want to be dependent upon the VA. They want to own their own business. ”

Long says he believes the help is especially needed in the current economic climate and with the large number of veterans expected home this year. Available loans range from $5,000 to $200,000. Currently, more than 80,000 businesses in North Carolina are veteran-owned.

More information on the loan program is available at www.thesupportcenter-nc.org.

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