ST. GEORGE — Recognizing a Southern Utah veteran who serves his community and providing information for operating small businesses were highlights of the third annual Utah Veteran Unite Conference.
Court Pendleton, who serves with the Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs, stands with his family after accepting the 2023 Pillar Award, Hurricane, Utah, unspecified date | Photo courtesy of Jackie Hobson, St. George News
The conference honored veterans and their families during National Veteran Small Business Week in Hurricane during the first week of November. Also participating were the Utah Veteran Business Resource Center, the Utah Small Business Administration, the Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs, and the Big Sky Veterans Business Outreach Center.
Hurricane Mayor Nanette Billings presented the 2023 Pillar Award to Court Pendleton, veterans outreach manager and veterans service officer for the Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs.
Jackie Hobson, who serves as the marketing and outreach director for the Utah District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration, told St. George News the award is a way to recognize someone who has helped veterans and their community.
“Court goes above and beyond because he does more than just help with claims,” Hobson said. “He’ll do what his job requires, but he’ll also do anything that he needs to do to help the vets out.”
The 2023 Pillar Award was presented to Court Pendleton at the Utah Veteran Unite Conference by Hurricane Mayor Nanette Billings, Hurricane, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Jackie Hobson, St. George News
According to a news release, the SBA joined its resource partners to host virtual and in-person events, highlighting the entrepreneurial journeys of veteran- and military spouse-owned small businesses nationwide.
Pendleton grew up in Southern Utah and served 26 years in the Army National Guard. He served two deployments in Iraq and two stateside deployments, Hobson said, adding that Pendleton also has been a veteran’s service officer for nine years.
“Court’s super passionate about making sure vets get the help they need,” Hobson said. “I couldn’t ask for a better person for the award to go to this year. He has served in the military for a long time on multiple deployments. But what he does for the veterans of Southern Utah is above and beyond what most veteran service officers do.”
For example, Hobson said, Pendleton has worked closely with different law enforcement to make sure that if there is a crisis, they’re prepared to go in and best help instead of maybe “accidentally escalating a situation.”
In a statement issued by St. George Mayor Michele Randall, she said she had become acquainted with Pendleton while serving on the Veterans Coalition of Southern Utah. Following the death of Lt. Col. Bill Toole, she said Pendleton kept the coalition from dissolving until a more permanent successor could be found.
The third annual Utah Veteran Unite Conference honored a veteran who serves his community and provided information for those running small businesses, Hurricane, Utah, date unspecified |Photo courtesy of Jackie Hobson, St. George News
“Court is the ultimate connector in our military community, and he does it through his stellar interpersonal skills,” Randall said. “Through his friendly and direct manner, he is quickly able to build trust, get to the heart of the matter and help people find the answers to their problems.”
Randall noted that because of his experiences in the military, Pendelton has the empathy needed to relate to fellow veterans, especially those who have struggled with post-traumatic stress.
Utah vets in small business
There are many resources available to vets and their families. For business, Hobson suggested the Boots 2 Business/Reboot training. To learn more, visit the Utah Veteran Entrepreneurs Facebook page.
Another opportunity veterans or their spouses can get assistance for their small businesses is to apply for the Community Advantage Program. Hobson said to qualify for this lending program, one needs to be classified as underrepresented to get the program. The loan is available for up to $350,000. It’s also open to women and rural minorities.
Hobson encourages veterans to reach out and learn all that is offered. She wished she would have known about the many programs available when she started a business.
“By using those resource partners, right to get free counseling, you’re cutting the time to get to that end goal and usually spending less,” Hobson said. “I know personally, I would save thousands of dollars and a lot of energy and time.”
Aikta Marcoulier, the region eight administrator for SBA, told St. George News that veteran-owned businesses play a significant role in the American economy, employing over 5 million Americans and generating $1.3 trillion in total sales.
Marcoulier said in Utah specifically, 99.3% of all business is small business. The portion of veteran-owned is 5.3% of all businesses in Utah, and 3.9% of all employees are veterans in Utah as of 2022.
Marcoulier said the total amount of businesses that are veteran-owned in Utah is 13,015, and 10,000 of those are without employees.
“So what that means is these are small businesses individually run by that veteran. So these are micro businesses. So they don’t have employees, all they do is employ themselves and they’re out there working hard fulfilling their dream,” Marcoulier said. “3,015 veteran businesses have employees. So I think that’s important to note that these veteran businesses are very much self-employed.”
The SBA also oversees small business development centers, women’s business centers, Scores, service courts and retired executives and a veterans business outreach center. Marcoulier said there are 28 veterans business outreach centers throughout the nation.
“They provide free support, meaning one-on-one consultants with people who have done this a million times, starting and growing a business,” Marcoulier said. “So, as I say, you’re cutting all the right corners and not making expensive mistakes by working with these partners. Lots of workshops that they offer, information, events and partnerships through these organizations with others that support our veterans.”
According to a news release, the SBA has taken steps to increase its support for veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs, such as implementing the SBA Veteran Business Certification program, expanding the Veteran Business Outreach Center program, overhauling its loan program, and launching the Military Spouse Pathway to Business training program.
“Embracing the spirit of unity, for the third year in a row, we stand strong in our commitment to support veterans in Southern Utah,” SBA Utah District Director Marla Trollan said in the news release. “Hand in hand with the Utah Department of Veteran and Military Affairs, we’ve cultivated a profound connection, collaborating in countless ways over the years to serve all of Utah’s veterans better.”
Conference guests included Mark Parrish, Army National Guard Combat Veteran who grew up in Ephraim and is currently the owner of multiple McDonald’s franchises in Southern Utah; Donald McDonald, previous global CMO for MX Technology, Intel, Fiserv, Checkpoint, and board member for Patriot Bootcamp. Special Remarks were given by Cory Pearson, director of veteran services at the Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs.
To find or register veteran-owned businesses in Utah, check the new Utah veteran-owned business registry at this link.
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