10/25/2017 10:09:32 AM
Luke Greiner, Mark Schultz
Just over 27,150 veterans live in Southwest Minnesota, accounting for about 9 percent of the region's adult population. With more than 10,000 veterans, the largest number of these served during the Vietnam era, which extended from 1961 to 1975. These veterans are now between the ages of 42 and 56 years of age, still in their prime working and earning years.
Not only did these veterans contribute to our nation through their service in the military, many have also made significant contributions to their local economies. According to recent articles in Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc., and Small Business Trends, the military has a proven track record of producing successful entrepreneurs. Veterans often hone their skills in leadership and problem-solving, traits that are critical to running a business.
With more than 4,700 veteran-owned firms, Southwest Minnesota had a higher concentration of these vetrepreneurs than the rest of the state and nation. According to the latest data available from the U.S. Census Bureau's Survey of Business Owners, over 14 percent of all firms in Southwest Minnesota were veteran owned or equally veteran/nonveteran owned, compared to 12 percent in Minnesota and 11 percent nationwide.
Blue Earth County, home to Mankato, had the largest number of veteran owned firms in the region, tallying more than 715 firms. The next largest number of veteran-owned firms were found in Brown County and Le Sueur County, with 526 and 444 firms, respectively.
Brown County also had the second highest share of veteran-owned firms in the region, exceeding 20 percent of total firms in the county. With nearly one-in-four firms being veteran owned, Nobles County had the highest concentration in the region, and the fourth highest number overall. Le Sueur, Cottonwood, and Jackson County also had high rates of veteran ownership (Figure 1 below).
Of the more than 4,700 veteran-owned firms in Southwest Minnesota, at least 1,150 of these firms had paid employees, accounting for nearly 7,000 employees and over $229 million in annual payroll. The region also had at least 3,550 veteran-owned firms without paid employees, generating sales receipts exceeding $72 million.
In addition to assistance from DEED with veterans looking for employment the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs has an entire section of their website dedicated to helping veterans start, manage, or grow their business. Veterans can also access resources from DEED's network of Small Business Development Centers and the U.S. Small Business Administration's Minnesota District Office.