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Upcoming veterans summit focuses on business start-ups

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Registration remains open through March 11 for the Military and Veteran Entrepreneur Summit in Las Cruces, which will be held 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday, March 18, at the Las Cruces Convention Center, 680 E. University Avenue.

A free learning opportunity presented by the U.S. Small Business Administration/New Mexico District Office and the New Mexico Veterans Business Outreach Center, the summit is designed to be an event for entrepreneurial-minded, active-duty service members, military veterans, national guard/reserve members and their spouses. Rural-area service members and veterans are encouraged to attend.

Successful military veteran entrepreneurs will share their experience with starting and growing a small business after their military service. Attendees can attend breakout sessions on access to capital—including capital especially for veterans, lucrative government contracting and how to tap into resources, especially for rural-area small businesses.

In addition, former Navy SEAL Eli Crane will share his experience of starting Bottle Breacher — a $5 million company making custom .50-caliber “bottle openers” which began out of the one-car garage in his Navy housing complex in San Diego, where he and his wife were raising their two children.

Crane recently formed a partnership on the popular TV show Shark Tank featuring Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. Crane now has seven patents and employs 45 people — all of whom are fellow veterans.

Though the summit is free, pre-registration is required and must be done online by March 11 at www.sbamilitarysummit.eventbrite.com. For additional information, contact Rico Zanotti at merico.zanotti@sba.gov.

The New Mexico Veterans’ Business Outreach Center (VBOC) was created by the New Mexico Department of Veterans Services to help entrepreneurial-minded veterans, transitioning active duty personnel, and their spouses with their business-development needs. It is funded by a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration and was the first state-managed center in the nation created specifically to help veterans.

New Mexico’s VBOC can help with everything from business planning, start-up and expansion funding, marketing and anything else a small business needs to launch and grow. Though based in Albuquerque, the VBOC serves veterans throughout the southwest region. For more information, contact VBOC Director Rich Coffel at (505) 383-2401 or richardL.coffel@state.nm.us.

VBOC Veterans Business Advisor James Cassidy can provide assistance in southern and southeastern New Mexico from the VBOC field office in Roswell. He can be contacted at jamesm.cassidy@state.nm.us or (575) 624-6002.

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