Back in 2005, 3 paratroopers met in a program that was free for Veteran Owned Business owners- called Fasttrac, sponsored by the Kaufman Foundation. For completing the course, each would get a $600 gift certificate to the Gateway store (they used to sell computers and hardware for those who are too young to remember). Our class had about 12 business owners in it, and was taught by WSU professor Dr. Herb Brown (RIP) who was also a former paratrooper (although I never knew it when he taught management to me in the early eighties).
We heard about government contracting opportunities and set-asides for Service Disabled Veteran Owned businesses and decided to start a networking group to see if we could crack the code on government contracting in the backyard of WPAFB. We named the organization VOB 108- as in Veteran Owned Businesses and 108 for the house bill that we believed granted the set asides for SDVOB’s (it turned out to be 104 or 106, but by then it was too late).
For 7 years, we met monthly at lunch time to hear a speaker on a variety of business topics, but often about government contracting. We charged $5 a head for pizza that was almost always either donated or heavily discounted by Dayton’s Original Pizza Factory. Some meetings had 10 people and some had 40.
One of our original classmates became the Small Business Development Center director at Wright State and next thing you know, we were running our own free “Vetrepreneur” course, taught by veterans for veterans. One graduate was the bedbug sniffing dog company, Milliterriers.
After 7 years, the three paratroopers got weary of being the leads and we passed the baton to a recent member, an Annapolis grad, who had big plans. He switched the meetings to evenings, at bars, and it became more of a social group. He changed the name from VOB 108 to VOB Ohio despite us having participants from Indiana and even Michigan. The group disintegrated.
Fast forward to this coming Wednesday, Oct 18, 2023, at 0730, William Bowers is trying to reboot an organization for Veterans in business. The meeting is free, at a Veteran Owned Business, the RFGG Marketplace on the first floor of the old CitFed/ 5/3rd/Premier Health building at the corner of 2nd and N. Main downtown. the address is 110 N Main St, Dayton, OH 45402 but the restaurant entrance is on 2nd St across from the Stratacache/kettering tower.
We’ve met with the new Ohio Veterans Chamber of Commerce which is just getting off the ground, but we’re not sure exactly what kind of organization we want to build. According to stats delivered to us by the Montgomery County Veterans Service Commission, our area has one of the highest percentage of veterans populations in the state. If you own a business, and are a veteran, show up, or leave a comment on this post with your name and company so we can get in touch with you.
Hope to see you there.