State universities in Florida are joining together to offer a special three-phase program to teach veterans entrepreneurship.
An innovative entrepreneurship program spearheaded by Veterans Florida and dedicated to teaching veterans how to start and run their own business is taking root within five Florida state universities.
“The Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program offers veterans in the state access to high-value, entrepreneurship education through our world-class state universities,” said Veterans Florida Executive Director Robert Carbonell. “This education will empower the next generation of great veteran entrepreneurs to make lasting contributions to the state’s economy.”
Full details about the program, which is in active development, have been made available on the Veterans Florida website (http://veteransflorida.org/veterans/veterans-florida-entrepreneurship-program/) and recruitment of veteran students has begun. Each university will offer the same curriculum and dedicate existing small business development resources to the program, which is composed of the following three phases:
Phase I: An online phase teaching the basics of entrepreneurship.
Phase II: A one week in-residence program at one of the participating universities during which veterans receive face-to-face instruction from business experts and refine their business concepts and plans.
Phase III: One year of mentorship and follow-up support to help the veterans launch and run their business.
The new veterans entrepreneurship program will incorporate a variety of services to help the students refine and implement their vision.
The Five Institutions of Higher Learning Participating in FL VETS
The University of West Florida will serve as the host partner for the FLVETS Entrepreneur Program alongside their Military and Veterans Resource Center and Small Business Development Center.
“According to the U.S. SBA, veterans are 45 percent more likely to start a business,” says Michael Myhre, CEO and Network State Director for the Florida SBDC. “Though military service is excellent preparation for entrepreneurship, business ownership often still proves challenging. Our goal is to ensure our state’s servicemen and women have the necessary training and resources for their businesses to succeed.”
The University of West Florida in Pensacola, FL is a vibrant, distinctive institute of higher learning with undergraduate, graduate and targeted research programs serving a student population of more than 12,000. Of this student population, 25 percent are considered to be those who are active duty, veterans, and dependents (spouse or children) of service members.
Joining the University of West Florida in running the program are Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL; Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, FL; the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, FL.; and Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, FL.—the only community college participating.
Florida Atlantic University has a long-standing commitment to student veterans, beginning with its establishment as a radar training school operated by the U.S. Army Air Corps in the early 1960s. FAU has achieved Military Friendly® Schools status for five consecutive years.
FGCU has partnered their Institution for Entrepreneurship with the regional Florida Small Business Development Center located on their campus to serve as a network partner for the FLVETS Entrepreneur Program.
The University of North Florida’s Military and Veterans Resource Center, Coggin College of Business and Small Business Development Center are joining together to service the FLVETS Entrepreneur Program.
“We are pleased to build upon the programs that we currently offer to the thousands of veterans we serve through the Veterans Florida Program at HCC,” said Dr. Ken Atwater, HCC president. “Entrepreneurs fuel our growing economy and this program will help our service men and women get equipped with the necessary tools and knowledge to be successful in the global marketplace.”
The Curriculum Incorporates Critical Support Services
The new veterans entrepreneurship program will incorporate a variety of real-world services to help the students refine and implement their vision, including peer-to-peer learning sessions, mentoring, technical assistance, business round tables, networking opportunities with business leaders and peers, support of student organizations and speaker series.