Veteran business owners getting support from outreach center

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When Bob Nevins came home after serving as a U.S. Army medivac helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War, he knew he wanted to start a business.

"I found after Vietnam, I became so independent, and I wanted to direct my own future," Nevins told NewsChannel 13. "I started looking into the business area."

He quickly realized the process was anything but easy.

"It’s very difficult because you have the ideas, but you don’t actually know where to get the information," he explained.

Nevins got a boost from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Veterans Business Outreach Center, also known as VBOC. A chapter of VBOC is hosted at the McNulty Veteran Business Center at the Watervliet Arsenal. The services offered there are free to veterans.

"Sometimes when veterans are looking to start a business, maybe they just need to bounce an idea that they have. We can talk them through that with our one-on-one counseling. Maybe they need a little help with writing a business plan, or getting access to capital just to get them going," said Kathy Caruso, executive director of the McNulty Business Center.

With their help, Nevins was able to start two businesses, Alliance 180, a non-profit that helps other veterans with suicide prevention through horse experiences. He also owns Statewide Aircraft, a company that sells airplanes.

The center says it has helped thousands of veterans in the past year. As for Bob Nevins, he says he wouldn’t be where he is today without their help.

"Even today, I rely on them for information," he said, "Getting through COVID, unbelievable the help they were able to support."