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UPDATE: State off to slow start boosting veteran businesses

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Indiana's program to direct more state contracts to military veteran-owned businesses has had a slow start during its first year.

State figures show that about 1 percent of those contracts have gone to Veterans Business Enterprises, while Gov. Mike Pence set a 3-percent goal when the program started last July, The Journal Gazette reported.

Eight veteran-owned businesses have received contracts totaling $811,000, according to the Indiana Department of Administration. To reach the 3-percent goal, the veteran contracts would have to reach about $2.2 million.

Agency spokeswoman Connie Smith said it can take six months or longer for new contracts to be awarded.

"So it will be some time before contracts to veteran-owned businesses reach 3 percent," she said.

The state relies largely on a federal program for certification of veteran-owned businesses. There are 158 such businesses in Indiana with federal verification, and 83 Indiana veterans businesses registered with the state.

Many veteran-owned businesses are construction firms and the state veteran's business enterprises program is a goods and services program created under a separate procurement law, Smith said.

Public works projects — buildings and roads, for example — don't have a veteran-owned business program.

Some veteran business owners said the state needed to do more spread the word about the program, which gives those businesses extra points to a bid score the state agency considers when awarding contracts.

Army veteran Garry Schaaf, 63, said he was looking into the state program for his Fort Wayne business Ross Development.

"It's a great program. The intent is good," he said. "I think they need a significant education campaign."

Mike Sutton, an Air Force veteran who owns Parametric Machining in Huntertown, is federally certified but hasn't registered for the state program and isn't sure there are any state machining contracts that he could bid on.

"I have heard a little about it but how it works is a bit sketchy," Sutton said.

So far, the state contracts given to veteran-owned businesses have covered engineering services, landscaping, filters, promotional products and consulting.

Greg Medcalf said his company, Tiger Solutions International LLC in Avon, has received contracts for inspecting Medicaid facilities and for delivering and warehousing police radios.

"The projects are really helping," he said. "I really like that they made a program to help veterans."

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  • Problems
    One problem with a program like this (which, I am very much in favor of) is that there is a myriad number of ways in which to manipulate ownership. Many years ago, friends of ours owned (OK, the husband owned) a very large trucking company, which did a tremendous amount of business with various local & municipal energy companies. They started a "subsidiary" company with the wife as the owner so they could claim "minority or female-owned entities..." Needless to say, the husband's company leased equipment, at an inflated price, to his wife's "company" and they made a fortune. Plus, got a huge tax write-off...
  • Register Your Veteran Owned Business
    In partnership with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) and Ivy Tech, Conexus Indiana manages a free database that many procurement organizations (private and public/govt) utilize when searching for Hoosier-owned businesses. The database includes a search feature for diversity-owned enterprises (women, minority, veteran, service-disabled, etc). I encourage all veteran-owned businesses to register their businesses at www(dot)indianasupplierinsight(dot)com. You can not be easily found if your business is not registered. Rich Murphy Program Manager, Indiana Supplier INsight Conexus Indiana
  • Ouch! Presidential Aspirations Minus One
    Oh! Oh! This could hurt Pence's presidential aspirations. Quick, announce something!

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