The University of Central Florida Business Incubation Program will offer up to 40 veterans free training in how to start and run a business, thanks to funding and network partner status from the Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program.
The program will reimburse UCF up to $85,000 to provide the four-month-long training module. “We are fully committed to providing veterans with the guidance and mentoring that will put them on the path to successful business ownership,” said Gordon Hogan, director of UCF’s incubator program and a U.S. Army veteran. “We want to be sure that when they make the decision to go ahead with forming a business that they make an informed decision.”
UCF already has a history of helping veterans through the business-incubation program. The UCFBIP has helped launch at least 20 veteran-owned companies and it has benefited from having leaders who are also veterans eager to help others make the transition from the military to entrepreneur.
Rafael Caamano, site manager for the UCFBIP’s Winter Spring location, served in the U.S. Army from 1991 to 1999. In 2013, as an associate director of the UCFBIP, he was trained by the Kauffman Foundation to lead its veteran’s entrepreneurship course.
Ricardo Garcia, who manages the government resources program for the UCFBIP, took the course and afterwards felt compelled to help lead it. A U.S. Air Force veteran who served in Afghanistan, Garcia said that he was impressed with the course because it focused on the strengths that veterans typically possess – loyalty, commitment and a sense of discipline – and helped them parlay that into success in the business world.
“The Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program offers veterans in the state access to high-value, entrepreneurship education through our world-class state colleges and universities,” said Bobby Carbonell, the organization’s executive director. “This education will empower the next generation of great veteran entrepreneurs to make lasting contributions to the state’s economy.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, military veterans own an estimated 2.4 million businesses which account for 9 percent of all businesses nationwide.
“The VARC looks forward to collaborating with the UCF Business Incubation Program as a partner in our quest to offer as many opportunities as we can for student-veterans to succeed and excel in their academic and post-academic careers,” said Paul Viau Jr., director of the center. “With the approximately 1,400 student-veterans at UCF, we look forward to helping UCFBIP expand its offerings to this most-deserving population.”
The Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program is a 15-week course, consisting of both online and in-person training, where participants will attend in-class training at the UCFBIP University Towers office every two weeks on Saturdays from Jan. 20 through May 6. Online coursework will be held in between the Saturday sessions.
Following the completion of the education phase, participants will receive ongoing mentorship from Florida SBDC business consultants and businesses leaders from their local area.
Applications are being accepted now at http://www.veteransflorida.org/veterans/veterans-florida-entrepreneurship-program/. A program open house will be held at the UCFBIP on Dec. 16. The office is at 12201 Research Parkway, Suite 2001, Orlando.