The Fox School of Business opened a center to assist veterans interested in starting small businesses at the Ambler Campus Library on Wednesday.
The Small Business Development Center, which has had a Main Campus branch since 1983, opened a second branch, to focus on providing free business-related services to veterans of the United States military. The center will offer all the same opportunities as the Main Campus one, including office space for clients, investment opportunities and consulting.
Dennis Miller, a 13-year Marine Corps veteran who retired in 2009, helps run the veteran’s program. He’s the executive principal of Wheel Dog Industries, LLC, a consulting company on Market Street near 16th that focuses on helping businesses hire veterans.
“If I were to have a little more guidance in the beginning, I would have gotten off the ground more easily,” Miller said. “That’s why I want to try and help the folks that come here.”
“Having 15, 16 veterans in the room together, talking to each other…that fellowship is really going to help everybody here get to the next space they’re going to go to,” Miller added. “That’s the thing I’m most looking forward to.”
Vicki McGarvey, the vice provost of the Ambler Campus, said it was important for the Small Business Development Center to open a location in Ambler to better serve clients in Montgomery and Bucks counties. Pennsylvania ranked fifth in the nation for the number of veteran-owned businesses, according to a 2017 U.S. Census Bureau report.
“We’ve already been talking about expansions and future collaborations at this campus that would bring some new services and programs to this campus that we can work on together,” McGarvey said.
Both McGarvey and Maura Shenker, the Small Business Development Center’s director, attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Ambler Campus Library on Wednesday. The center will occupy half of the library, The Temple News reported. It celebrated its official opening in honor of National Small Business Development Centers Day.
Hassan Moore, a supplier diversity manager for the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, Advocacy and Leadership, helps the university employ businesses run by diverse community members, including veterans.
“The [center] does so many amazing things,” Moore said. “…Working with veteran-owned businesses, minority-owned businesses, all the diverse businesses is important for us, to reach back out and work with these businesses that actually are a part of the community.”
Moore set up a portal for veterans to submit business information to schedule one-on-one consulting meetings, he said. Veterans do not have to be a Temple student to apply, he said, and just need a “viable” business and interest in expanding.
“This center, with this focus on veterans, started veteran-owned businesses will add to the county’s commitment to help our veterans,” said Valerie Arkoosh, who is chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners and spoke at the center’s opening ceremony.
“This is just another tool in that toolbox to make sure our veterans have everything they need to be successful,” Arkoosh added.