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Grand Bank provides $50K grant for Rider to continue Veterans Entrepreneurial Program

New Jersey Bankers Education Foundation adds $5K
By
Kristine A. Brown
02/26/2015
he VET program is a free, eight week program which will have veterans develop a business plan to explore a venture idea or guide

he VET program is a free, eight week program which will have veterans develop a business plan to explore a venture idea or guide

In 2014, Grand Bank, N.A., of Hamilton, N.J. provided Rider University with a $50,000 grant to establish its first Veterans Entrepreneurial Program. This year, the bank has once again provided $50,000 so the program can continue and expand. Impressed by this innovative program, the New Jersey Bankers Education Fund, Inc. has contributed an additional $5,000 to support the program, which will now be called Rider University’s Veteran Entrepreneurship Training, or VET program.

In 2014, Grand Bank, N.A., of Hamilton, N.J. provided Rider University with a $50,000 grant to establish its first Veterans Entrepreneurial Program. This year, the bank has once again provided $50,000 so the program can continue and expand. Impressed by this innovative program, the New Jersey Bankers Education Fund, Inc. has contributed an additional $5,000 to support the program, which will now be called Rider University’s Veteran Entrepreneurship Training, or VET program.

Dr. Ronald Cook, director of Rider’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, said this year’s cohort of students will benefit from some constructive changes to the program.

“First, we are expanding the classroom aspect of the program, and will assure that each veteran has a formulated business concept in place from the very beginning. Also, mentors will be reviewing concepts while establishing a relationship with the veterans during the classroom portion of the program, which will help them as they work with the veterans during the following year.”

Second, Cook said, the mentorship aspect of the program will be expanded from just a one-on-one experience between mentor and veteran, to also include a panel of various subject-matter experts who will be available to all the veterans in the program. “For example, I anticipate the panel consisting of lawyers, accountants, finance executives, and more,” Cook explained. “The participants in the program will be able to consult with all of these mentors, not just their individually-assigned mentor, for whatever assistance or advice they may need for their individual business.”

Mark Wolters, President and CEO of Grand Bank, said, “Last year when I spoke at the graduation for the first class of veteran entrepreneurs, I said I wanted Grand Bank to do more than just hang up a sign saying we are veteran-friendly. I wanted to do something that really made a difference. I am so excited that this program has exceeded even my own high expectations. To see these individuals beginning to realize their entrepreneurial dreams is deeply gratifying. I am proud that Grand Bank can provide this unique opportunity to another class of veterans. I can’t wait to see their businesses come to life.”

Cook added, “We are so fortunate to have a partner as dedicated and involved as Grand Bank. This is a distinctive and especially valuable opportunity for our veterans, and we are so grateful that Mark Wolters shares our vision of helping foster veterans’ personal and professional growth through entrepreneurial training.”

He added, “The additional funding from the New Jersey Bankers Education Foundation was such wonderful surprise and greatly appreciated, as well.”

The VET program is a free, eight-week program which will have veterans develop a business plan to explore a venture idea or guide an existing business. Classes are held in the evening on Rider’s Lawrenceville campus and taught by professors from Rider’s College of Business Administration.

The program is run in two phases. In Phase I, veterans will develop their business concept. Cook said this concept must be finalized before moving onto Phase II, the full business plan development. “Only veterans whose business concept is approved by the program can move into Phase II, as the pace of the program requires a solid concept to build a business plan around,” Cook said. Veterans in the program also attend two additional workshops, one on accounting fundamentals and the other on business research skills.

Upon completion of the program, veterans will receive one year of mentoring as they pursue their venture dreams.

Daniel Kalshner, of Hawthorne, NJ, was one of 14 veterans who participated in Rider’s first veterans entrepreneurial class last year. His goal is to one day open his own restaurant. He said, “This program gave me real-world perspective on how to open a business. I know now that if I want to open a restaurant, I will need investors. Working with my mentor, Mr. Wolters, and executives from Grand Bank, I have also learned how to talk to potential backers, and how to present my idea so that both parties will benefit from my business plan. Their expertise has been invaluable.”

Kalsnher, who is currently active in the Army National Guard, added, “Everyone at Rider was very understanding while we went through the program. I know I am better for having gone through it. I also know that no matter what happens, one day I want to go into business for myself. If a veteran is certain that he or she wants to be an entrepreneur, then this program is a great opportunity to get the information and support they need to do just that.”

Interested applicants can apply online at www.rider.edu/entrepreneurship (click the link for veterans under “Notices”). For more information or questions about the program email Kyle Anacker at [email protected].