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Alexandria’s new business center provides support for veterans.

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Alexandria has launched a new business center for veterans, one of the first city-led initiatives of its kind in Virginia and the mid-Atlantic.

The Alexandria Veterans Business Enterprise Center (AVBEC) offers assistance to veteran entrepreneurs, veteran-owned businesses and veterans looking to explore new careers through business counseling and one-on-one professional coaching.  It’s located inside the city’s Small Business Development Center, but plans to move into its own space in the summer of 2014.

Alexandria is home to more than 250 veteran-owned businesses and 12,000 veterans, which represents more than 8 percent of the city’s population -- higher than the national average.

AVBEC is designed to serve as a central point for veterans to navigate resources already available to them, in addition to offering access to business leaders, as well as conference, training and co-work space.

Recognizing the importance of the AVBEC launch, Alexandria Mayor William D. Euille declared  2014 “The Year of the Veteran,” in a proclamation issued Tuesday.

“The year of the veteran is about Alexandria’s commitment to the long-term reintegration of veterans into and within the city of Alexandria. While 2014 is our kickoff year, we see this as a long term, sustainable effort,” AVBEC Director Emily McMahan said in a statement.

Along with the city, the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership (AEDP) and the Alexandria Small Business Development Center (SBDC) joined forces to create the new center. The collaborative effort stemmed from a desire to attract veterans affected by sequestration and defense drawdowns to Alexandria.

“Our goal is not to compete with all of the organizations that are doing great things for veterans. Rather, we want to leverage our existing resources and continue to build and develop these partnerships,” McMahan said.

Val P. Hawkins, president & CEO of AEDP, said that veterans already own many of Alexandria’s strongest businesses, and “this next wave of retiring veterans will play a major role in the city’s continued economic sustainability.”

 

In 2014, the center plans to hold a Veterans Business Summit, training programs and community service events.


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