Boots to Business assists area veteran entrepreneurs

The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Center at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, hosted “Boots to Business Reboot,” Tuesday, an entrepreneurial education and training program geared for veterans, active duty servicemembers, and their spouses.

The full-day Boots to Business program, offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration took place at the Center for Economic Development Bakery District.

Bill Sabo, regional director of the Small Business and Tech Center at the university, said the River Valley has a strong veteran community that plays a vital role in the region’s growth.

“Whether a veteran wants to start his or her own business or expand an existing one, this program will give them the insights they need to be successful in this region and a roadmap toward success,” he said. “It’s a lot of motivation, to get people to think differently, think entrepreneurially.”

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Sabo said the biggest thing that he wants the community to know is that their program exists, it’s free and it’s open to veterans who need help developing their business ideas.

Sabo will join Myron L. Pullum, outreach coordinator for the University of Texas at Arlington Veterans Business Outreach Center, and Kimberly Magee, Outreach Coordinator at the Arkansas Procurement Technical Assistance Center for this session.

“I’m glad to host this program,” Sabo said. “Whether because of their military training and discipline or their drive toward excellence, some of the most successful and driven entrepreneurs I work with are veterans.”

Pullum is a military veteran who got involved with the business outreach center after he was discharged from service and started working at a bank. It was there that he found a love for small business.

“I got involved because years ago, when I got out of the military, there was no agency designed to help people who wanted to start business and military types transition. They existed, but we didn’t know who that was,” he said. “The VBOC was created to fill that gap.”

Myron Pullum engages with veterans at the Boots to Business Reboot training held at The Bakery District's University of Arkansas at Fort Smith classrooms.

Myron Pullum engages with veterans at the Boots to Business Reboot training held at The Bakery District’s University of Arkansas at Fort Smith classrooms.

Pullum said he would go to bases and teach the program before it was officially offered to veterans. He’s still motivated to deliver this training to those who served as he did.

“This is my real family,” he said. “I’ve been out 25 years now, but I’m at home with these folks. I’m here to deliver some things that I know that they don’t and I want to make sure I’m able to give back for as long as I can.”

Daniela Ricci, a veteran and owner of Tap Truck Ozarks beer truck, signed up for this program in 2020 and came back to meet other veterans and connect with resources.

Ricci started her business during the pandemic after her house burnt down and she was living out of a camper with her family.

She said this program helped her get in the right mindset and assisted her in deciding how to finance her business.

Daniela Ricci smiles next to her Tap Truck at a wedding.

Daniela Ricci smiles next to her Tap Truck at a wedding.

Ricci also said meeting other veterans who were on her base was a great way to network.

“If we have a similar vision, hey let’s work on it together,” she said. “It helps, finding the same people that have that motivation and drive, it’s a good way to motivate each other and be like ‘hey so how’s everything going?'”

Veteran looking to transition into entrepreneurship and more information on Boots to Business and other Reboot classes to continue learning can be found here.

This article originally appeared on Fort Smith Times Record: Boots to Business assists Fort Smith area veterans in entrepreneurship