UNION, NJ – As our nation pauses to recognize Veterans Day, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) hosted a forum for New Jersey veteran small business owners and veterans interested in starting their own small businesses or strengthening an existing one. Sen. Booker was joined by U.S. Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (CD-10), New Jersey State Senator Ray Lesniak,  U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Regional Administrator Kellie LeDet, JBMDL Commander Col. Frederick Thaden along with more than 170 New Jersey veterans, federal agency officials, local leaders, non-profit and private sector partners.‎

“Our nation’s veterans have always demonstrated a tireless commitment to their communities and to our country, even long after their military service ends,” said Sen. Booker, a member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. “I was so grateful to be able to spend time with some of our nation’s heroes and to hear how these courageous men and women are still working to serve their communities through creating successful businesses that will boost our state economy and create jobs for New Jerseyans. All of the local, federal, public and private partners who joined in this forum understand that when our veterans succeed, New Jersey succeeds. I look forward to continuing to work to expand opportunities for veterans and their families.”

This week’s event, the eight small business forum Sen. Booker has hosted throughout the state, provided New Jersey veteran small business owners and veterans interested in starting their own small business information on topics such as access to capital, increasing grant opportunities to veteran-owned small businesses, digital marketing strategies and military base subcontracting.

“We know that nearly 1 in 10 U.S. small businesses are veteran-owned, which represents approximately 2.8 million businesses,” said SBA Regional Administrator Kellie LeDet. “And those 2.8 million businesses are generating $1 trillion in sales. As this population continues to grow, we just want the veteran community to know that we stand ready to provide them with the programs and services to help them succeed.”

"Veterans and their entrepreneurial spirit have been the engine that has restarted the US economy time and time again,” said Jack Fanous, Director of the GI Go Fund.  “This event hosted by Senator Booker will help the next generation of veterans fulfill their goals and achieve the American Dream. Senator Booker has been a lifelong champion for veterans since we began working together nearly 10 years ago and his efforts do not begin and end on Veterans Day, but every day.”

As a member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Sen. Booker has been a strong advocate of New Jersey small business. Last year, Sen. Booker introduced the Strengthening Technical Assistance, Resources, and Training to Unleash the Potential of Veterans Act, or the STARTUP-Vets Act, which would designate specific grants focused on supporting veteran entrepreneurs and business owners. The grants would be dispersed by business accelerators and incubators that possess the expertise, support and resources veteran entrepreneurs need to succeed.

Just this week, Sen. Booker released a handbook to help assist New Jersey veterans and their families
navigate the process of transitioning from military to civilian life by providing resources on employment, healthcare and other state and federal programs.