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New Orleans Veterans Launch Business Startup Program

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As the nation plans events to honor veterans on Tuesday, a New Orleans nonprofit is kicking off a program aimed at helping them establish their own businesses. Five will be selected in December.

It’s called “VetLaunch," described as a business accelerator program. The founder is Robert Armbruster, a retired Marine captain injured in Iraq. He says he wants to help veterans transition into private business — and he says they already have the skills they need.

“It was amazing what I would see, what these young Marines were able to do. It’s still amazing to me what a driven 20-year-old Marine can accomplish," Armbruster said. "I’ll take that kid over someone with three degrees any day.”   

VetLaunch will select five applications from veterans — or a veteran’s spouse or dependent — who plan to stay in the New Orleans region.

Alex Owens is the program manager. He’s been working with the Idea Village, which supports entrepreneur ventures in the New Orleans area.

“If you’re someone who’s had a business for the last couple of years but it hasn’t gotten off the ground, or you’ve been doing it too part time where you can’t invest full energy or you need access to more opportunity, we’re looking for you," Owens said. "If you’re someone who’s had kind of a kernel of an idea that you’ve been sitting on, but you’re ready to take a big jump, we’re looking for you.”  

The program offers nine weeks of training with local consultants who are experts in accounting, marketing, legal matters, social media and other professional services that new businesses need.

Applications are available on the VetLaunch.org website. Deadline for submission is December 4.  A pitch event is planned during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week in March.

Eileen is a news reporter and producer for WWNO. She researches, reports and produces the local daily news items. Eileen relocated to New Orleans in 2008 after working as a writer and producer with the Associated Press in Washington, D.C. for seven years.

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