The Small Business Administration (SBA) announced Tuesday the Veteran Pledge Initiative. The initiative is a commitment by top SBA national, regional and community lenders to collectively increase their lending activity to veterans by five percent per year for the next five years. VetFran Committee Chair Joe Lindenmayer of TSS Photography and VetFran Committee member Rich Bradshaw of TD Bank joined the SBA’s Administrator Karen Mills and representatives of the SBA lending community, the U.S. Army, and transitioning service members interested in small business ownership at Ft. Bragg. VetFran was invited to speak on behalf of existing and prospective veteran franchise owners as well as franchisors eager to add veterans to their systems.
In his remarks during the announcement, Joe Lindenmayer expressed “Today, VetFran boasts a record 579 franchise companies offering financial incentives, training and mentoring to veterans interested in franchise ownership and there are no shortage of veterans interested in franchising, with the VetFran Directory receiving over 44,000 hits a month. Where the equation all too often breaks down is access to credit. The goal of this initiative is to close the lending gap, a problem which is preventing many otherwise worthy veterans from becoming franchisees and leaders in the civilian economy.”
With the support of SBA’s top 20 national lending partners, and approximately 100 additional regional and community lending partners across the United States, SBA expects to assist an additional 2,000 veterans obtain loans to start or expand small businesses by increasing lending by $475 million over the next five years. This equals a five percent increase above historic veteran lending activity by the SBA.
“Our service men and women have made incalculable contributions and sacrifices for our country, and supporting them as they pursue their dreams to start or grow their own business is one of SBA’s highest priorities”said SBA Administrator Karen Mills, a consistent VetFran supporter. “Through this partnership with national lending partners and regional and community lenders across the U.S., we stand ready to serve veteran entrepreneurs with loan-guarantees, entrepreneurial training, and resources that are critical tools to help them start businesses, drive the local economy and create jobs for themselves and their communities.”
Joe Lindenmayer with past Chairman of the National Association of Development Companies (NADCO) Chairman Scott Davis, President & CEO of Mountain West Small Business Finance and Charlie Cleary of Self-Help Ventures, a leading Certified Development Company (CDC) based in Durham, NC. The nation’s CDCs delivered 10% of their $6 billion in loans to veterans in 2012 and pledged to increase that volume 5% per year for the next five years.
The initiative complements IFA’s access to credit campaign including Small Business Lending Summits in 2011 and 2012. Rich Bradshaw, the head of SBA lending at TD Bank, said franchises are an especially popular choice for veterans and that most of the franchise loans TD expects to make as part of the initiative will be under $150,000. Veterans have a proven track record in franchising, with one in seven U.S. franchise businesses being veteran-owned. Lindenmayer said “As a franchisor, Chair of the VetFran Committee and most of all as a proud Marine veteran, I commend the SBA, and its lending partners for stepping in to fill this void and provide essential financing”.