B2B Program Helping Veterans Transition from ‘Boots to Business’

B2B Program Helping Veterans
Transition from ‘Boots to Business’


SOUTHERN TIER – As the nation prepares to honor those who have served their country in the United States Armed Forces on Friday, November 11—Veterans Day—one program in particular is giving something back.

Boots to Business is offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration and run in New York State by the Region II Veterans Business Outreach Center. Boots to Business is an entrepreneurial education and training initiative for transitioning service members and their spouses. The B2B “Boots to Business: Reboot” is an eight-hour course providing attendees with an overview of entrepreneurship and applicable business fundamentals.

“Our territory in Region II includes all of New York State, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” said Amy Amoroso, VBOC and B2B director, counselor, and lead instructor. “B2B is offered only to transitioning service members and spouses on military bases, while the Reboot class is open to veterans of all eras, Active Duty Service members including National Guard and Reserve, and spouses.”

According to B2B promotional materials, Reboot participants are introduced to the skills, knowledge and resources they need to launch a business. This includes steps for developing business concepts and a business plan, as well as information on SBA resources available to help.

“Reboot classes are free, and graduates are eligible to then take the six-week online ‘Boots to Business Revenue Readiness’ course through Mississippi State University, again at no cost,” explained Amoroso.

Free monthly webinars are also available to veterans and their spouses, on topics ranging from “How to Write Your Capabilities Statement and Define Your Government Target Market” to “How to Respond to an RFP.”

“Veterans, service members and military spouses can contact our offices, join webinars or review the information we have to share on our website, www.vbocregion2.com,” Amoroso continued.

“All the counseling, training and webinars are free. We offer confidential, one-on-one counseling for vet entrepreneurs that are looking to start or expand a business, buy or sell—whether franchise or family owned—or who want to go into international trade.

“We help with business planning, cash flow projections and management, research, procurement, networking, mentoring, and more,” Amoroso said. “We are the one-stop-shop for veterans and their families looking into an entrepreneurship venture.”

The B2B program started in 2013 and, as of late 2019, more than 100,000 service members had participated.

Amoroso, a military spouse who describes herself as a “business counselor and educator for 25+ years and serial entrepreneur,” has been assisting business-minded veterans since the program’s inception. Current VBOC Region II staff includes Administrative Assistant Jennifer Beston, who aids in the instruction, planning and execution of the classes. Kathy Caruso, executive director of the McNulty Veteran Business Center—host organization of VBOC Region II—provides program coordination and grant management. A contractor, Juan Marrero, instructs the B2B and Reboot classes in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Earlier this year, Amoroso and the McNulty Veteran Business Center/VBOC received the SBA’s “2022 National Small Business Week Veterans Business Outreach Center Excellence in Service Award” for their work in helping veterans, service members, and military spouses start and grow their businesses.

“Our small but dedicated team of three worked tirelessly during the pandemic to provide important information and support for these small business owners when they needed it the most,” Amoroso said of the award. “We are humbled by this award and are grateful for the opportunity we have every day to serve those who served.”

Among the B2B success stories are retired Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sergeant Ray Gagnon, president and chief executive officer of Schenectady-based JDog Junk Removal and Hauling which is, according to Amoroso, the only national franchise that is veteran owned, operated, and employed.

Internationally recognized as a world class business builder, coach, trainer, leader, and mentor, Gagnon is also founder and chief consultant of Business Operational Success Systems and, most recently, creator and head coach of Chaos Coaching, which provides small business entrepreneurs with real life training, coaching, and mentorship. He is a regular guest speaker at Reboot classes with Amoroso, sharing best practices and advice on how to succeed in business.

Stonewall Defense is a successful defense contracting firm based in upstate New York founded by Richard Newkirk and Nicholas Campbell, both prior military service members and B2B graduates.

While no B2B or Reboot classes have yet been held in Otsego County, Amoroso expects local veterans may already be availing themselves of the VBOC Region II services and she is eager to offer additional assistance.

“We would love to be able to collaborate with an organization in Otsego County that could host one of our B2B classes for veterans and their families,” she said.

To connect with Amoroso and the Boots to Business program, call (518) 326-5522.

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