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PAVE Program helps Louisiana veterans start small businesses

Published: Nov. 11, 2020 at 8:34 PM CST
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Louisiana leaders launched an innovative program to hone the entrepreneurial skills of veterans who start a business in the state.

Pathway to Assist Veteran Entrepreneurs, or PAVE, is a partnership of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs, Louisiana Economic Development, the Louisiana National Guard and the Louisiana Small Business Development Center Network.

“As a former member of the 82nd Airborn Division and a West Point graduate I know it can be a struggle to make that transition," Secretary of Louisiana Economic Development Don Pierson said. "I did it; I ran a small business for a time.”

No matter what branch or how long you served, it can be difficult trying to start a life outside of the military. That’s why Governor John Bel Edwards along with state leaders created the PAVE Program.

PAVE begins with three online courses available 24 hours a day. Upon completing that self-paced training, veterans register for a virtual boot camp. Following the interactive boot camp, each veteran receives ongoing support from a designated counselor in the Louisiana Small Business Development Center Network. The program is open to Louisiana military personnel or veterans who intend to start a business.

“It gives both a hands on opportunity and what we’ll call maybe a bootcamp," he said. "You know our veterans might know about a M-16 or a F-15 but they may not know a lot about a 1099 or withholding taxes.”

The initial online training covers three sections: Starting a Business; Securing Financing; and Developing a Sales Strategy. Participants then take part in a scheduled boot camp for entrepreneurs, hosted by the Louisiana Small Business Development Center Network.

The virtual boot camp is a one-day experience in two parts. Instructors help veterans analyze the feasibility of their business plan and also introduce them to business resources, including tools specific to veteran-owned businesses. Upon completion of the boot camp, veterans are connected with a consultant for long-term business support.

The program not only looks to help veterans but also grow the range of small businesses in the state.

“A component of success in a local economy is the succes of those small businesses," he said. "Here we have 277,000 men and women that have formally served our nation and now as veterans may have a desire to be running their own companies.”

PAVE is open to active-duty personnel and reservists in good standing, as well as veterans discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. Interested parties may explore the program at OpportunityLouisiana.com/PAVE and apply online with a $15 registration fee.

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