Helping veterans get a start after their military careers is important, according to Curry County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ernie Kos, who is helping host an event to help veterans start their own businesses.
“It gives the chamber an opportunity to honor our veterans,” Kos said. “The fact that you can have (job) counseling right here at the chamber is great.”
Kos said the Veterans Business Outreach Center of Albuquerque will conduct the event, hosted by the chamber and Wells Fargo, in conjunction with the chamber’s quarterly breakfast.
The event will include a free breakfast for veterans Tuesday morning, followed by individual business counseling sessions for veterans who want to open their own businesses.
“We want to come away with two things being understood,” said Joseph Long, VBOC director. “First, that veterans understand the resources they have available through us to help them start a business and second, that chamber of commerce and economic development officials understand the resources that VBOC offers to their veteran entrepreneurs.”
Long said VBOC is under the New Mexico Department of Veteran Services, which helps veterans with benefits.
He said VBOC helps veterans understand the benefits they are entitled to where business is concerned.
He said the main things his organization counsels veterans on are whether their business idea is feasible and how to create a business plan and finance it.
Long said he is calling the traveling forum VBOC on the Road, because normally, veterans in New Mexico would have to travel to Albuquerque for business counseling.
“I decided to take it to all the municipalities,” said Long, who also plans on holding forums in Portales and Roswell. “New Mexico is the fifth largest state there is in land mass and people are having to drive 300 miles one way to receive counseling on how a veteran can start a business, so I figured I would take the counseling to these municipalities.”
Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce executive director Karl Terry said the event will come to Portales in the fall.
“I’m sure we’ll do one but whether we will do it in place of the quarterly luncheon or hold it as a separate event is what is undetermined,” Terry said.
Kos said, along with the event will be a separate event called Hiring Our Heroes.
“If you are a veteran not interested in starting your own business but you want a job, we have the Hiring Our Heroes to help them with that,” Kos said, saying the event will be held at a Clovis Veterans of Foreign Wars post at the same time as the business event.
“The goal is to give local employers in the business community a chance to give back to the military community, who has sacrificed so much for us,” Kos said. “I think working together, we can connect talented veterans and their spouses with either the opportunity to start their own business or find employment in the business community.”
Schedule for veteran employment events for Tuesday:
• Veteran breakfast: 7 a.m. at Wells Fargo in Clovis.
• Veteran job fair: 9 a.m.-noon at American Legion Post #25 in Clovis.
• Business start-up counseling for vets: 9 a.m.-noon at the Clovis chamber of commerce.
• All events are free. For information, call 763-3435.