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New Course Will Help Veterans Become Entrepreneurs

The Eastern North Carolina Center for Business & Entrepreneurship at NC Wesleyan College, in partnership with the Rocky Mount Chamber of Commerce, is offering military veterans an opportunity to enroll in the only Kauffman FastTrac® NewVenture for Veteran Entrepreneurs course in the state.

The FastTrac NewVenture comprehensive training program is scheduled from December 31, 2013 – March 26, 2014, and will be presented in 10 weekly three-hour classes led by NC Wesleyan College instructor and Interim Center Director, David Walker.  The course has openings for 30 military veterans and their spouses.  Classes will be held in the Gateway Technology Center on NC Wesleyan’s campus in Rocky Mount.

In stating who the program is seeking to attract, Walker indicated, “We are looking for those North Carolina veterans who want to join the 2.4 million other veterans nationally who already own their own businesses.  Their companies employ 5.8 million people and account for $1.2 trillion in sales annually.  We believe the FastTrac New Venture course will prepare veterans in our region for a challenging and rewarding career post-military.”

Theresa Pinto, Rocky Mount Chamber President, commented, “We see both a need and an opportunity for military veterans to start their own companies in our region. We are pleased to offer FastTrac NewVenture as part of the Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce’s program of work.”

FastTrac NewVenture teaches entrepreneurs how to identify and meet market needs, as well as access human, business and financial resources. The course also facilitates networking between entrepreneurs and professionals.  The value of the course is $700 per student, but the tuition for the upcoming session is discounted to $325 and includes course materials to be retained by participants.  Approval from the North Carolina State Approving Agency to administer veterans’ educational benefits for the program is also currently being sought.

According to the Kauffman Foundation, developers of the FastTrac NewVenture program for veterans, when military men and women leave the service and begin to look for career opportunities, entrepreneurship is an appealing option.  Data indicates that as many as 45% of veterans want to start their own businesses after completing their military service.

“Kauffman FastTrac courses not only help aspiring entrepreneurs uncover answers, they also help individuals determine the right questions to ask,” said Alana Muller, president of Kauffman FastTrac. “FastTrac training saves you time and money by testing the feasibility of your business concept before you launch it.”

Pinto also pointed out that one of the unique features of the program is that area business leaders are invited to participate in the classes and provide the veterans with 30-minute presentations regarding the various aspects of starting a company.  Representatives from the financial, legal, accounting, marketing and other professions provide insights on the challenges of starting a new company and their recommendations on how to launch a start-up enterprise.

To date 55% of the veterans enrolling in the FastTrac courses have been female and 75% of the enrollees are over 35 years old with most having had attended college prior to participation. A survey of last year’s FastTrac graduates indicates that 59% of them had already started their own businesses.

“Their military training provides America’s veterans with a skill set that includes a commitment to excellence, attention to detail, strategic planning abilities and a focus on success.  These are the same traits that business owners must have if they are to be successful,” noted Jim Gray, president of NC Wesleyan College.

NC Wesleyan College has focused on rebuilding its ROTC program in the last few years and was recently recognized by Victory Media as a Military Friendly School for 2014, placing it in the top 15% of 12,000 schools nationwide.  General Hugh Shelton (ret.), former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former vice chairman of Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees, will serve as the Honorary Chair of the FastTrac NewVenture program for the college.

“Having this unique program endorsed by General Shelton and housed in our new center not only lets us reach out to veterans as part of our college’s mission but also it underscores our commitment to helping veterans launch a new career,” stated Gray.

Walker, who will serve as facilitator of the course, commented, “The Eastern North Carolina Center for Business & Entrepreneurship is committed to helping veterans gain the insights and tools they need to become the originators of the next generation of companies that will put people to work in our area.”

Pinto explained that the Rocky Mount Area Chamber has a vested interest in participating in the Kauffman Foundation’s FastTrac NewVenture training program. “The Chamber is always seeking ways to invest in the future of our community,” she said. “This program not only lets us showcase our economic development opportunities, it will help us attract new entrepreneurs to our market.”

The Center for Business & Entrepreneurship is already hosting a Young Entrepreneurs Academy being attended by area high school students.  Pinto said, “The Chamber is proud that we are able to offer students in the Twin Counties an opportunity to better understand how the business world functions while also inspiring them to think entrepreneurially.”

For more information about the FastTrac NewVenture for the Veteran Entreprenreur  training program, contact:

David Walker                                   Instructor, NC Wesleyan College

252-985-5151                                Interim Director, Eastern North                             Carolina Center for Business & Entrepreneurship


Theresa Pinto                                   President, Rocky Mount Area Chamber

252-973-1222                                 of Commerce