Recent data show veterans who have served since September 11, 2001, have a higher unemployment rate than the national average. As the government works to reduce that rate, a convention in Atlanta this week focused on helping veterans who own small businesses.
Kurt Sobotka looks for new business at the National Veterans Small Business Engagement. He’s an Army National Guard veteran who served in Iraq. Now, he runs Prime Technical Services with his twin brother Kyle. The Buckhead-based company that works in the area of IT services, cyber security and software development. He’s come to the World Congress Center for a convention that links veteran-owned small businesses with larger companies and federal agencies. The goal: to win government contracts.
Sobotka says, “We could have called into those companies forever and ever and ever and never really gotten to the right person ,and now I think we have someone at least to say and leverage and say hey we spoke to that person, and it will at least warm up our conversation.”
As he speaks to some of the 400 businesses and agencies at the conference, he highlights his experience as a veteran.
“In the military, there’s no, ‘Oh I will get to it tomorrow,’ or, ‘I’ll only get half of it done.’ It really does bode well when I speak when I speak with a buyer or manager who uses our services. I can guarantee that it’s going to get done.”
RTI is a large international research company that got a pitch from Sobotka. RTI contracts with the CDC, the Department of Defense and other government contractors. Dr. Laura Strange is the director clinical studies for RTI. She heads the company’s Atlanta office.
“Much of our work is government contract work, and in doing that work there are certain small business requirements that we have, so we’re always looking for partners.”
And Strange has a personal interest in working with veteran owned businesses because she served in the Navy and the Army National Guard.
“When veterans come back or get off active duty there are a lot of transitional issues for them to deal with, and for the federal government to have a program in place that supports small veteran businesses is really important to facilitate that transition.”
Convention organizers say about a quarter of the businesses in attendance last year got more than $560 million dollars in federal contracts.