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News Brief

Nov. 30, 2023 |  By: Tim Carpenter - Missouri Independent

Davids, Alford lead bipartisan effort for bill aimed at helping veterans launch small businesses


By Tim Carpenter - Missouri Independent

U.S. Reps. Sharice Davids of eastern Kansas and Mark Alford of western Missouri secured approval of legislation designed to make it easier for veterans to use federal resources to start a business after completing military service.

The number of veterans who own businesses in the United States has declined from 50% in the post-World War II era and 40% in the post-Korean War period. The latest estimate indicated 4.5% of 3.6 million veterans who served in uniform since Sept. 11, 2001, had launched a company.

“Veterans possess many of the entrepreneurial skills needed to start and run a successful small business, but we must do a better job of helping them transition from service to business,” Davids said. “The SERV Act not only honors our veterans … it empowers our veterans to embark on a new chapter as entrepreneurs and small bsinesses owners.”

The Kansas Democrat collaborated with the Missouri Republican to build support for the SERV Act, otherwise known as the Successful Entrepreneurship for Reservists and Veterans Act. It would increase promotion of small business programs available to veterans and strive to help veterans overcome barriers, including the transition to civilian life, lack of access to credit and stigma regarding physical disabilities and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The legislation forwarded to the U.S. Senate by unanimous vote Tuesday would require the U.S. Small Business Association to develop a plan for improving access to business-oriented programs available to veterans, reservists and their spouses.

“The Small Business Administration has many different programs aimed at helping veteran entrepreneurs, but these programs are only useful if veterans know about them,” Davids said.

In July, Alford and Davids reintroduced the SERV Act originally offered by Davids in 2019. It cleared the House at that time, but not the Senate.

Congressional hearings in 2023 put a spotlight on the argument SBA could do more to assist veterans interested in operating a business, Alford said.

“One of the biggest barriers for entrepreneurs, especially for our veterans, is accessing capital,” he said. “It is a critical component when starting a business and one of the biggest challenges throughout a small business’s lifespan.”

Davids serves the 3rd District that includes Kansas City-area counties of Wyandotte and Johnson, while Alford represents the 4th District covering a section of western Missouri beyond the Kansas City metropolitan area.