Utah is home to nearly 170,000 veterans who have courageously served our country. They are our sons and daughters, our mothers and fathers, our neighbors and friends. They are the few who were willing to put everything on the line to preserve our national security. Yet after they have so valiantly served, too many veterans struggle finding meaningful employment in the private sector.
“About 10 years ago, Utah’s veteran unemployment number was astronomically high—around 33 percent,” says Brian Garrett, senior vice president and director of military relations at Zions Bank. “Despite the best efforts of the state of Utah and many community organizations, veterans face many different issues when looking for employment. We knew we needed to come together to address the unemployment problem.”
In January 2014, the Utah Veteran Owned Business Partnership (UVOBP) was formed with the mission to connect veteran entrepreneurs and business owners with the resources they need to be successful in the marketplace. UVOBP partners include Salt Lake County, the Utah Department of Veteran and Military Affairs, Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Small Business Administration, Salt Lake Chamber, Zions Bank, American Express and others.
“We were all doing great things, but we needed to come together and collaborate,” says Garrett. “We brought together several organizations to form one partnership to provide all the necessary information and resources in one place to help our veterans find work and launch their own businesses. Fast forward to today and veteran unemployment is 2 percent.”
To decide how best to help veterans, UVOBP kicked off by launching a veteran-based survey to find out what services they’d like to see. In response, UVOBP will host several conferences to increase education and awareness of business resources that are available to Utah veterans. The partnership will also host four large job fairs annually.
Ted Elliott, SBA veteran affairs representative, says UVOBP has already created enormous opportunities for veteran business owners and entrepreneurs. “The UVOBP is vital because it centralizes the resources veterans need, which means veterans have less of a chore locating the resources available to them,” he says. “There are many great and different organizations that belong to UVOBP, helping to give veterans one place where they can go and network and find out information that’s going to help them. It’s really a great partnership.”
Learn more about the Utah Veterans Owned Business Partnership at veterans.utah.gov/business.