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."