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VBOC Director Heads to Washington to Testify About Small Business Program Effectiveness

By Noell Saunders

Cherylynn Sagester, director of the Old Dominion University Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC), testified before the U.S. House of Representatives' Small Business Committee on small business programs and their effectiveness on Feb. 27.

Sagester has played an integral role in running ODU's VBOC for nearly six years, which is recognized as one of the most active and best run in the nation for providing a wide range of services to veterans. Her testimony will provide Congress and the public with additional information on the success and scope of VBOC's across the country, providing valuable exposure for the program.

"This invitation to testify is, quite simply, a result of Cherylynn's tireless efforts and her well-run program," said Larry Filer, associate vice president for entrepreneurship and economic development for the University's Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship.

Sagester, a military veteran of both the U.S. Navy and the Army, has more than 25 years in business development. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from Old Dominion University and master's in management from the University of Phoenix.

Old Dominion University's Veterans Business Outreach Center, which is part of the Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, is designed to provide entrepreneurial development services, such as: business training, counseling and mentoring to include business plan and funding plan development, as well as referrals for eligible veteran-owned businesses or those considering starting a small business. The VBOC is a Small Business Administration (SBA) grant-funded program specifically designed to assist veterans by giving them the resources and info to either start or expand a business. In addition to the VBOC's counseling and training programs, the SBA also offers loan-guarantee programs for veteran business owners. Veterans, service-disabled veterans, veteran's spouses/dependents, military reservists, including discharging service members, are eligible to receive business counseling through the VBOC. The group supports veterans and their families in Virginia and West Virginia. In addition, there are 22 VBOC's throughout the country that service all 50 states and U.S. territories.

The VBOC provides entrepreneurship training for the majority of the military bases in Virginia and West Virginia in coordination with the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), which is designed for military personnel transitioning to the civilian sector. ODU's VBOC has assisted over 275 business start-ups and helped more than 1,200 veteran-owned businesses grow and expand. This has produced over $350 million in revenue and created nearly 1,000 jobs.

More about the Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship:

The Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship is a one-stop shop for the community, students, faculty/staff and alumni seeking resources and services for innovation, entrepreneurship and new enterprises and programs. In addition to the Veterans Business Outreach Center, the Institute contains the Strome Entrepreneurial Center (SEC), Innovation Center Norfolk, Tempo, the Women's Business Center (WBC), and the Hampton Roads Procurement Assistance Center (HRPAC). Visit the Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship website for more information.

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