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LAS VEGAS — Much is said about the need to support veterans returning from war, especially those whose scars are lasting. Uncle Sam and the business community have joined forces, with money and a strategy to do just that.

At the first National Veterans Small Business Conference on June 20-22 in Las Vegas, 700 representatives of the federal government, service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses and nonprofit organizations huddled to figure out how to help the wounded GI become an entrepreneur, and how to help that start-up get some of the billions of dollars in federal contracts.

It’s a result of Executive Order 13360 signed by President Bush on Oct. 21, which requires the federal government to set aside 3 percent of contracting and subcontracting opportunities for service-disabled, veteran-owned businesses.

Doesn’t sound like much? How about $6 billion for 2005 alone?

Frank Ramos runs the Department of Defense Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization. Normally, he works to pair small businesses with large contractors so they can learn the system, or his office helps minority- or women-owned businesses get their foot in the door. Now, Ramos’ office has been charged with helping service-disabled, veteran-owned businesses navigate the bureaucracy. He wants to tell Stripes readers how his office can help.

“Contact our offices as a starting point, and we’ll flow it down” to the appropriate agencies.

“Something like that, we can say, ‘OK, here’s where you go to take care of it,’” Ramos said. “Make an inquiry now, start doing your homework … and we’ll be glad to try to facilitate [you] best we can.”

Contact the SADBU at:

If you want to start a business ...

1. Veterans Business Development Officers can help you prepare and plan. Find your nearest representative at:

2. The Veterans Business Outreach Program provides business training, counseling, mentoring and referrals for veterans starting a small business:

If you already own a business ...

1. Know the codes the government uses to find your product or service.

North American Industry Classification System:

The Federal Supply Class or Service:

2. Register your business

The DUNS number is a means to track 60 million businesses worldwide. Get your Data Universal Business Number at:

You also must be in the Centralized Contractor Registration to be awarded a federal contract:

3. Find opportunities

Current procurement opportunities can be found at:

4. Familiarize yourself with general Web sites related to doing business with the federal government:

5. Explore subcontracting opportunities

— Pat Dickson


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