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VETCON brings NYS work to disabled veteran-owned businesses

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Service-disabled veterans can face many challenges when transitioning back to civilian life. In 2014, New York implemented a law to help them start their own businesses and make more money. Tuesday, a conference held at the Desmond Hotel—VETCON—is going on its sixth year to help SDVOBs (service-disabled veteran-owned businesses) connect with state agency contracts.

“It’s a lot different environment from wearing camis every day to throwing on a suit and tie,” Charlie Reeder, conference attendee, said.

Reeder was a heavy machine gunner in the Marine Corps. After his service, he started a printing company—CMS Group LLC—in 2017.

“My first year in business, we probably did around $35,000. I was crying at my desk thinking, oh my god, what have I done,” Reeder said.

However, the tide has turned for his company. Reeder said New York is doing more for service-disabled veteran-owned businesses than any other state.

“Now we are going to close out this year with about 5 million,” Reeder said.

Former Governor Andrew Cuomo signed The Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business Act into law on May 12, 2014. The law allowed qualified businesses to register with the state. Currently, there are over 800 certified SDVOB’s active in New York.

But how does the certification help them? The law also established a goal for state agencies, public authorities, and public benefit corporations to use SDVOBs for 6% of their work.

“We’re trying to get as close to that 6% set aside of those contracts going to service-disabled Veteran-owned businesses we can,” Anthony Kuhn, Chair of VETCON Alliance, said.

According to the NYS Office of General Services, state agencies give more money to SDVOBs every year. In 2016, SDVOBs received $16.4 billion, and this year, SDVOBs received $181 million.

The conference—VETCON—aims to bridge the gap between SDVOBs and state entities. They call it “matchmaking.”

“I think there’s a moral integrity to try to do the right thing, and that’s hard to find in the corporate market or the agency market today,” Gabriel Gengler, Mavic Advisors LLC, said.

VETCON 2021 is the first veteran-focused business conference for many attendees since the pandemic began, but hundreds believe it was worth making the trip to Albany’s Desmond Hotel.

“Six percent is double what any other state does in the country,” Reeder said. “And they go above and beyond in making sure they’re meeting the mandate.”

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