The National Veterans Small Business Conference and Hiring Fair will take place in Detroit June 26-29, 2012, hosted by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Focused on helping veterans who own businesses or are seeking jobs, the event is expected to attract thousands of veterans, business owners and federal employees to the Cobo Center.

“VA is committed to bringing more veteran-owned businesses into the public-private partnership,” says Chief of Staff John Gingrich. “In addition to the National Veterans Small Business Conference, our Detroit Hiring Fair will provide veterans with on-the-spot job opportunities and interviews, while also offering career search classes and one-on-one counseling.”

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The potential pool of participants is impressive. In 2010, there were 21.8 million veterans in the U.S., accounting for one out of every 11 persons aged 18 and over. Veterans are well represented in the nation’s labor force and business sector as well.  They had majority ownership interests in 2.45 million business enterprises in 2007, leveraging the important skills and leadership abilities they acquired during their active duty and Reserve Component service.

Other interesting statistics about this demographic included in the “Veteran-Owned Businesses and their Owners — Data from the Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners” published in March by the Office of Advocacy, U.S. Small Business Administration include:

•    Veteran-owned firms had sales/receipts of $1.220 trillion, 5.7 million
employees and an annual payroll of $210 billion in 2007, the latest year for which statistics are available.
•    Veteran-owned firms represented 9 percent of all U.S. firms.
•    One-third of all veteran-owned firms were split almost evenly between two industries: the professional/scientific/technical services group and construction. Significant shares of veteran-owned firms were also found in real estate and retail trade.
•    Veteran-owned firms were overwhelmingly headed by men (94.8 percent). Women owned just 4 percent. Self-identified minorities as a whole owned 14.2 percent of all veteran-owned firms.
•    Veteran business owners were markedly older than non-veteran business owners. Seventy-five percent were age 55 and over, and 36 percent were age 65 or older. This compares to 36.6 percent and 12.5 percent of all business owners, respectively.
•    California, Texas, Florida, New York and Georgia had the most veteran-owned firms.
•    The largest source of capital for business startup and acquisition was personal or family savings — almost 62 percent for veteran-owned firms and 60 percent for all firms. Business loans from banks or other commercial lenders were the second most important source at 9.8 percent for veteran-owned firms and 10.7 percent for all firms.

Veterans who are interested in attending this year’s Small Business Conference can visit the event’s website for more information.

This post was contributed by Sarah Levy of Merchant Express. Merchant Express helps small business grow their businesses with credit card merchant services.