Eight weeks ago, a cohort of 14 veterans from all branches of the military walked through the doors of Rider University to begin a journey of intensive business education with the goal of expanding or owning their own business. Last night, those veterans came back to campus once again, for a ceremony and celebration, marking the completion of the first phase of this unique program.
Rider’s Veteran Entrepreneurial Program began with a generous $50,000 grant from Grand Bank, N.A., of Hamilton, N.J., which allowed the veterans to complete the concentrated business education program free of charge. The curriculum taught veterans how to launch a new business, or grow an existing business, as well tangible instruction about business plans, marketing strategy, accounting and funding requirements.
Dr. Ronald Cook, director of Rider’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, which ran the program, says that over the past two months veterans attended two half-day workshops, followed by six sessions of classroom training taught by professors from Rider’s entrepreneurship department.
“The veterans learned the essential information they need whether they want to create a start-up, buy a franchise or expand their current company,” he says.
Now that the classroom instruction is complete, each veteran will be paired with a professional business mentor from the local community, who will work closely with them as they finalize and implement their business plan, and ultimately bring their dreams to reality. Examples of businesses the students are planning include graphic design, mobile automobile service, brew pub and restaurant, real estate venture, and a banquet/wedding venue.
During the ceremony, Dr. Cook thanked Mark Wolters, president and CEO of Grand Bank in Hamilton, N.J., for providing the funding to implement the program. “Mark and Grand Bank share our vision of helping foster veterans’ personal and professional growth through entrepreneurial training. We are very fortunate and grateful to have them as our partner for this unique program.”
In addition to a certificate of completion, each veteran was also presented with a military challenge coin, which Russel Melville, Rider’s director of Military and Veterans Affairs, said is a traditional military token awarded to soldiers as a symbol of appreciation for a job well done.
Melville added, “The management and leadership experience the veterans of our armed forces have accumulated over the course of their military careers is invaluable, and dovetails perfectly with the traits needed to run a small business. The Veteran Entrepreneurial Program was an outstanding opportunity for veterans to gain a deeper level of education about starting, running or expanding a business.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, veterans own nearly one in 10 small businesses nationwide. These 2.4 million small businesses employ almost six million people and generate over one trillion dollars in revenue.
For more information on all of the programs and services offered to veterans at Rider University, visit Rider's Office of Military Affairs website.