The state of Louisiana has launched a new program to certify and help promote businesses that are created and owned by veterans. The Veterans First Business Initiative is a product of Louisiana’s economic development department. The initiative will make it easy for consumers and other businesses to identify businesses that are operated by veterans. This will make it easier for people to decide to help support those who have served their country.
Louisiana has made this program a big priority. Governor John Bel Edwards and the New Orleans Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees came together to make a public service announcement promoting the initiative in August of 2019. The program includes a logo that is used to designate veteran-owned businesses. It will also create a directory listing products and services, making it easy for consumers to find veteran-run businesses. The hope is that this initiative will also make it easier for returning veterans to transition to civilian life. By providing them with a way to network and advertise, this program has the potential to create real impacts in veterans’ lives.
The program is also unique in that there are no fees associated with it. Signing up is free. An eligible business must be at least 51% owned by a veteran, a Gold Star spouse, or an active duty or reserve military member. Any business involved in the program must also be properly registered with the Louisiana Secretary of State. Businesses must be based primarily in Louisiana, and owners must be in the country legally to qualify. Documents such as a DD-214, DD-256, and NGB-22 may be requested as proof of the business owner’s veteran status.
The Veterans First Business Initiative was proposed by Representative Franklin Foil, a Republican from Baton Rouge. Foil is a veteran himself, having served in the Navy for almost thirty years. The bill he authored received unanimous approval from his fellow state legislators. It was signed into law by Governor Edwards who was also an enthusiastic supporter of the bill after learning of it.
Over 200 businesses have already been certified and added to the searchable online database. Veteran-owned businesses in the state represent a number of regions and industries. Businesses include cleaning services, horse therapy businesses, podiatry offices, and martial arts studios. The database is already a popular destination for Louisiana’s consumers.