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American Homefront

Free Veterans Entrepreneur Expo on Sunday

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Bobbie O'Brien
/
WUSF Public Media

As more and more active-duty military enter the civilian workforce, the number of career and job fairs for veterans has grown.

But very little so far has been offered to those veterans and military families who want to work for themselves.

Enter Pinellas SCORE and its Veterans Initiative. For a second year, the free business mentoring group has planned a Start-Up Business Resource Expo for veterans, active-duty members and their families.

The Veterans Entrepreneur Expo, “Turn your Passion into Profits,” is Sunday, Nov. 10, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Hilton Carillon Park, 950 Lake Carillon Dr, St Petersburg, Florida 33716.

“The yearly expo is intended to take that 60 to 65 percent that think about self-employment but do nothing about it, I want them to know what resources are available,” said Jack Grise, a Navy veteran and vice president of the Pinellas SCORE Veterans Initiative.

Veterans and those currently serving can learn what is involved in starting a business and it’s all for free.

The Veterans Entrepreneur Expo is just the first step. What’s even better is that the Pinellas SCORE business counseling and mentoring is not a one-time stop.

“We work with the clients as long as they come back to us,” Grise said. “If you want to take advantage of the expertise and experience, the vast experience, that these SCORE mentors have, you’d be crazy not to, it’s free.”

The expo offers education tracks that cover the legal aspects of starting a business, social marketing, all about franchising, and most importantly ways to finance your business.

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Credit Pinellas SCORE
Pinellas SCORE volunteers serve as free mentors to entrepreneurs starting up or expanding businesses.

“I’ve invited a set of panelists. There’s an angel investor coming. There’s a crowd-funding person that started a crowd funding organization, (Small Business Administration) SBA subordinated loans from banks,” Grise said.

There are additional financing opportunities like the SCORE Pinellas business start-up grant program for veterans who qualify. It is designed to assist and guide veterans or their family members to achieve business success.

The keynote speaker is Mark Swanson, an Army veteran, successful serial entrepreneur and Bright House executive.

There is no cost. Prior registration is preferred but walk-ins will be welcomed.

Veterans and military who can’t make it to the expo are invited to contact Pinellas SCORE to learn for training on the basics of starting or buying and successfully operating a business.