The Citadel will soon host a center designed to help South Carolina’s veterans start or expand their small businesses. The college has been awarded funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration to provide training and counseling to aspiring and existing veteran small business owners as part of the Veterans Transformational Learning Initiative, or VTLI. Housed inside The Citadel’s Tommy and Victoria Baker School of Business, the VTLI’s services will be available beginning May 1, 2023. The U.S. Small Business Administration, or SBA, provided a total of $3.5 million in grant awards to six support outreach organizations focused on veteran small business owners, with The Citadel representing the state of South Carolina.
Through the Boots to Business entrepreneurship training program — which is part of the Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program — The Citadel’s VTLI will provide training and a wide range of opportunities to service members and their spouses. In addition, the VTLI will provide business planning, assistance accessing capital, marketing and outreach and transitioning assistance to veterans and active-duty service members interested in starting or growing a small business.
“The VTLI is a fantastic opportunity for our state’s veterans and military community to start or continue the important work of operating a small business,” said The Citadel President Gen. Glenn Walters, USMC (Ret.), ’79. “This center will position The Citadel to provide even more support to veterans in South Carolina.”
The Citadel’s VTLI team will consist of advisors who each veteran will directly work with to conduct entrepreneurial development workshops, assess their entrepreneurial needs and requirements, prepare business plans, provide mentorship and more.
“The Citadel is committed to our veteran community, and through the VTLI we will help ensure their success in business, as well as increasing the number of small businesses in the state,” said Sally Selden, Ph.D., SPHR, provost and dean of The Citadel. “The Citadel is a wonderful fit for this initiative, with our supportive learning environment veterans will find it easy to work with the VTLI to start their own business.”
Housed under the VTLI will be the Veterans Business Outreach Center, or VBOC. The VBOC program is specifically designed to provide entrepreneurial development services — such as business training and counseling — to service members leaving the military, veterans, National Guard and Reserve members, as well as their spouses. The VBOC will work closely with the SBA to conduct Boots to Business classes, as well as offer workshops, training, counseling and mentorship opportunities in the area, and opportunities to secure business loans.
“Having the VTLI located inside the School of Business offers a multitude of resources to South Carolina veterans and, we hope, will also encourage veterans in our state to consider other learning opportunities at The Citadel,” said Michael Weeks, Ph.D., dean of the BSB.
The VTLI will be located on the third floor of Bastin Hall, in Room 328. Those interested, and who qualify for, the VBOC’s services are encouraged to make an appointment or stop by their office as early as May 1.
“The VTLI will be one, all-inclusive location for business training, counseling and other important aspects to veterans in the state who are interested in starting or expanding a small business,” said David Desplaces, Ph.D., director of the VTLI and professor at the Baker School of Business.