Business Accelerator For Veterans: Plan Unveiled At Watervliet Arsenal
A new idea becomes reality: an accelerator aimed at giving entrepreneurial-minded veterans a firm footing to launch new businesses.
The engine of the new center: the Arsenal Business & Technology Partnership, an alliance of business partners and mentors that will offer services to assist the approximately 900,000 vets in New York State to take their ideas, form businesses, grow those companies and become job creators in Building 44 at the Watervliet Arsenal.
Former Congressman Mike McNulty, a Democrat, represented the Capital Region for 20 years until 2009. "Had it not been for all the men and women who wore the uniform of the United States military, the rest of us wouldn't have the privilege of going around bragging as I often do, about how we live in the freest and most open democracy on earth. Freedom isn't free. We have paid a tremendous price for it. I try not to let even a single day pass by without remembering with deepest gratitude, all of those who like my brother, William F. McNulty, gave their lives in service to our country."
The Michael R. McNulty Center for Veteran Entrepreneurial Activity at the Watervliet Arsenal will provide workspace to veterans who are running their own business along with access to the Arsenal Partnership’s strategic partners, who will provide expert consultation to help these businesses thrive.
At the podium, Congressman Paul Tonko spoke directly to McNulty, his predecessor in the seat: "Mike, this is such a deserving factor brought your way. To know that this nation, this region, will respond in a very thoughtful measure to our veterans, assist them. Amy and I talked about it. We called it 'handholding.' Which is very important to guide people, encourage them, nurture them, underpin their efforts."
Retired Colonel Thom Besch, President at Veteran Solar Systems, Inc., is with the first business in line to take advantage of the assistance the new partnership will offer. He explains the transition from military to civilian life can be quite challenging. "It wasn't easy for me, even though I was a Colonel. I started at the bottom when I came home and started over again in solar. So now I'm pursuing the American Dream, hopefully started a successful business, but I also want to continue to serve my community, and also the veterans I served with. So it's my objective to bring clean energy to homes in the Capital District, but also to focus on hiring and training veterans that are trying to make the transition. Many employers don't realize the talent and maturity, the determination that veterans bring with them, but I do. I also know how important a mentor can be."
On-site resources at the veteran center will include administrative services, conference and meeting space, dedicated office space, computer and Wi-Fi access as well as access to the Arsenal Partnerships' participating businesses.