Chase Bank awarded UTSA’s Institute for Economic Development a $100,000 grant for the expansion of the institute’s Veteran’s Assistance and Services Program (VASP). The grant, which is the largest donation by Chase to the university, will allow UTSA’s Institute for Economic Development to ramp up their assistance to veterans, increase their client base and hire an additional veteran counselor.
VASP helps current veteran small business owners and those striving to start their own business by offering free professional business advice, training, marketing and strategic planning. Training includes advice on creating a business plan, how to obtain financing, developing business proposals, and provides guidance on marketing and web development.
“Many (veterans) want to start their own businesses because it has been difficult for them to find employment,” Director of the Institute for Economic Development Contracting Resource Center Terri Williams said. “We help them start those businesses and find contracting opportunities with the federal government as well as private corporations. With this help from Chase, we will be able to expand our capacity to help more members of our veteran population become successful business owners.”
The funds will also allow the institute to “increase our capacity to provide more workshops for veterans,” Williams said. At the workshops existing veteran small business owners learn how to obtain federal contracts and how to register with databases required by the federal government.
When approached by the Institute for Economic Development Jay Clingman, chairman of Chase San Antonio, said VASP is an important program and he wanted to be a part of UTSA’s efforts to help veterans.
“Chase very much supports veterans. This (grant) is an investment in supporting what UTSA is doing and helping veterans,” Clingman said.
Creating success stories is at the core of The Institute for Economic Development’s mission. In 2007, the institute assisted a veteran-owned health care staffing business, which expanded in 2010 and obtained a $3.5 million contract to provide staff to the Dewitt Community Hospital.
Another veteran-owned food services business significantly benefitted from the advice received by The Institute for Economic Development. In 2009, the company obtained new service contracts and obtained a $25 million line of credit, which enabled the company to hire more staff.
San Antonio is nationally recognized for its strong military presence and is home to approximately 48,000 military personnel and retirees. “The Institute for Economic Development supports veterans, through education, (to) start their own businesses. This helps them, it helps our economy, and it lines up with what we’re wanting to do philanthropically,” Clingman said.
According to The Institute for Economic Development, the unemployment rate for veterans in 2011 was approximately 15 percent, which eclipses the national unemployment rate of 9 percent. “To me, that’s a travesty for folks who have given so much. Our organization recognizes that, and we want to do something about it,” Clingman said.