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Opening Statement of Hon. John Boozman, Ranking Republican Member, and a Representative in Congress from the State of Arkansas

As one who started and successfully grew a small business, I know first hand the difficulties and challenges faced by entrepreneurs.  It is almost a cliché that entrepreneurship is not for everyone and I would hasten to add that it is not for the faint of heart.  Building a small business is hard work.  It often pays less than working for someone else.  I suspect it usually involves sacrifices by the family more often than working for corporate America.  Did I mention that it is hard work?

That is why, Madame Chairwoman, I thank you for taking time today to review the performance of The Veterans Corporation.  Judging by the written testimonies we have received, there is a level of dissatisfaction and disappointment with TVC’s performance, especially in its early days.

Public Law 106-50 established several purposes for TVC in stating, “The purpose of the Corporation shall be (1) to expand the provision of and improve access to technical assistance regarding entrepreneurship for the Nation’s veterans; and (2) to assist veterans, including service-disabled veterans, with the formation and expansion of small business concerns by working with and organization public and private resources, including those o the Small Business Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs”,…and several other private and public institutions.  Among the specifics, TVC was to develop a “network of information and assistance.”

In a sense, the existence of TVC is an example of frustration with the lack of services for veterans and disabled veterans by the Small Business Administration.  Public Law 106-50 also established the Associate Administrator of Veterans Business Development at SBA and charged the position with “formulation, execution, and promotion of policies and programs” that benefit veterans and disabled veteran-owned small businesses.  Unfortunately, with a budget of only $900 thousand, the Associate Administrator is not in a position of power within the agency and I look forward to hearing from him today.

The original legislation also terminated public funding for TVC after Fiscal Year 2003. However, the Corporation has continued to receive appropriated support through Fiscal Year 2006.  So, the question becomes, if TVC is not able to become self-supporting and does not garner additional appropriations, what is the loss to the veteran-owned small business community?  I hope each of today’s witnesses will take the opportunity to address that specific question.

Finally, as those entrusted with making public policy we must ask ourselves a couple questions.  First, are we just reinventing the wheel, and second, are existing federal small business-related organizations, if properly funded and lead, the appropriate place to promote veteran-owned small business?

Madame Chairwoman, thanks again and I yield back.