The new president of the North Carolina Veterans Business Association wants to quadruple its membership in the next two years and provide its members with services that persuade them to stick with the association over the long haul.
Army veteran and business-owner Tanya Jones of Charlotte began her two-year term as president of NC VetBiz, as the association promotes itself, in January. She is the first Black person to become president of NC VetBiz and she hopes her presence will quell a misperception among some that NC VetBiz primarily caters to white men.
NC VetBiz is a statewide nonprofit organization founded in 2008 to help North Carolina veterans and veteran spouses with education, networking and other resources as they launch and operate businesses, Jones said.
It is open to veterans and spouses of veterans from all military branches — Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Space Force and National Guard.
“We want you to feel that this is a place that you can also feel at home, that the camaraderie doesn’t have to end when you ETS or retire out of the military,” Jones said.
(ETS means “expiration term of service,” and refers to when someone leaves the military.)
The association also offers memberships to people, agencies and organizations that want to support veteran businesses, she said.
Veterans, veteran spouses and others who would like to learn more about NC VetBiz can attend a meet-and-greet at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Fayetteville-Cumberland Regional Entrepreneur & Business Hub in the Bronco Midtown — formerly Bronco Square — shopping center at 1073 Murchison Road, across the street from the main campus of Fayetteville State University.
Big plans to attract new members
NC VetBiz has 235 members, Jones said. She hopes in her first year to grow that to 500, and in the second year to 1,000.
She wants to bring in more younger veterans and people who are new veterans, find more creative ways to help businesses connect with commerce, and make sure that NC VetBiz is providing services to support businesses throughout their lifespan, and not just during the startup phase, she said.
NC VetBiz has an ongoing relationship with the federal Small Business Administration to help its members get information and assistance from that agency, Jones said. The SBA and NC VetBiz can help veterans get an official certification that attests their business is veteran-owned, she said, which therefore qualifies them for contracts and programs that give preference to veteran-owned companies.
The organization connects new entrepreneurs with experienced ones for mentorship, she said, helping businesses network to find other businesses for partnerships and other ventures. The association also holds educational sessions on additional business topics.
NC VetBiz resources helped new president with her business
Jones owns Interactive Advocacy, a Charlotte-area company that provides training, does speaking engagements, and has other programs and resources to help companies, government agencies, schools and organizations prevent sexual harassment, sexual assault, bullying, violence and other inappropriate or illegal behavior among their employees.
The training also helps victims learn how to advocate for themselves and seek help, she said. The activities encourage people who witness inappropriate behavior to help the victims, and she hopes it leads those who have behaved badly to stop.
Jones opened Interactive Advocacy in 2019, and she joined NC VetBiz in 2021. She found it a big help, she said.
“One of the things that I appreciate most is: One, the connections that I’ve made and the resources that it’s provided. And it has actually been like a boot camp for me along the way in terms of growing my business,” she said.
It helped Jones work with the SBA and the North Carolina Military Business Center, she said. The Military Business Center is a state agency headquartered in Fayetteville whose mission is to foster business opportunities with the military and the federal government.
All veterans welcome
Jones said she hopes that as a Black woman, her role as president of NC VetBiz sends a signal to veterans of color that all veterans are welcome to join the association.
During a recent Interactive Advocacy event where Jones made a presentation, she said, she met a Black veteran who thought otherwise.
“One of the things I shared was that I was the new president of NC VetBiz,” she said. Several participants met her after her talk.
“One of them had told me that they heard of the organization, but they thought it was predominantly white males in this organization,” Jones said. “And I told them that wasn’t the case, that there are currently other advisory board members that sit on the board that are not only women, but are women from different ethnic backgrounds.
“And so I think visibility and representation is important,” Jones told CityView on Friday. “I think it’s important for people to look out and see that their voices are heard and that ‘this resonates with me because I can see myself in this organization.’”
According to the United States census, America has about 16.2 million veterans. Of these, about 2 million, or 12.3%, said they are Black with no other racial or other ethnicity. Around 1.4 million, or 8.6%, said they are Hispanic or Latino of any racial background. About 11.7 million reported they are white with no other racial or Latino ethnic background; the remaining roughly 1 million U.S. veterans identified as being of other racial or ethnic backgrounds, or of mixed racial or ethnic backgrounds.
Senior reporter Paul Woolverton can be reached at 910-261-4710 and email@example.com.
To keep CityView Today going and to grow our impact even more, we're asking our committed readers to consider becoming a member.