EVERYBODY'S BUSINESS: New lending program will help veterans

Nov. 17, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

In the spirit of Veterans Day, much of this column last week focused on veterans. This week, there's one more thing to share: a new lending program designed to give veterans a leg up in starting a business of their own.

The federal government's U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that starting Jan. 1, any veteran who applies for a loan of $350,000 or less through the group's SBA Express loan program won't have to pay any sort of up-front fee. Currently, the cut-off is $150,000.

"As we honor our veterans and thank them for their service and sacrifice, let’s continue to identify ways to support them when they come home," Acting SBA Administrator Jeanne Hulit said in a press release that also noted the group supported $1.86 billion in loans for 3,094 veteran-owned small businesses last fiscal year.

There is a potential dearth of defense contractors in North Carolina, a sector for which many veterans could be suited. Local Sen. Ronald Rabin, himself a retired Army colonel, has previously told The Herald he's concerned that North Carolina's defense contracting industry lags far behind what you'd expect given that we have one of the largest military populations in the country.

In other news...

* The local Better Business Bureau is offering awards for local businesses and students. Visit torchaward.org for more information about the application for the BBB's Torch Award for businesses, or visit bbbscholarship.org to apply for the scholarships for college undergraduates and college-bound high school juniors and seniors. Applications for both are due at 5 p.m. Dec. 2, and people with questions should email Mallory Wojciechowski at mwojciechowski@raleigh.bbb.org.

* Love the outdoors and enjoy making money? A Bass Pro Shops center will open in Cary this February and is holding a job fair from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at the Embassy Suites at 201 Harrison Oaks Blvd. in Cary. The company is looking for people 18 or older for a number of departments — fishing, camping, hunting, archery, footwear, apparel/gifts, marine accessories, receiving and customer service — as well as cashiers, greeters, stockers, marine technicians, boat riggers, boat detailers and boat sales consultants.

* A distillery has been planned for Pittsboro, according to the Durham Herald-Sun, although it's unclear when it might open. Andy Zeman, co-owner of Benjamin Vineyards & Winery in Saxapahaw, is reportedly planning an operation called Devil's Distillery with Lyle Estill, a founder of the Pittsboro-based Piedmont Biofuels. They told the Herald-Sun the distillery would make port wine, brandy and a rum-style spirit and will be in the same complex as Piedmont Biofuels, which is located at 220 Lorax Ln, Pittsboro.

* Business fluctuations: In the past week, three new corporations formed in Lee County — Kaitlind & Bentley, Liberty Bell Homes and Mobile Media Blasting Technology — and no corporations were withdrawn or dissolved.

Have business news? Contact Will Doran at wdoran@sanfordherald.com or (919) 718-1217.