By Mike Motz
Sidney SunTelegraph 

Local Chamber Helping Veterans Get A Business Advantage


January 19, 2023 | View PDF

Mike Motz

Economic Development Director Jeff Klare and Veterans Service Manager Whitney Whatley address a group of veterans Wednesday night at the Elks Lodge about the opportunities for new businesses and how much assistance is available to get started and operational in a short time frame.

Cheyenne County's new Economic Development Manager had an urgent message for Veterans in the Cheyenne County area that thought about or are considering opening their own businesses.

"Cheyenne County has a lot of veterans with skills, and if you want to start a business, the time is now," Klare said.

He talked about how the Sentinel Missile Project will be bringing " a lot of economic activity" soon to the area, and how important it is to establish your business now as to not miss out on all of the opportunities anticipated to flow from the Sentinel Project.

Often times, military veterans do not know where to start or many of the legal and financial challenges of operating their own business and get frustrated. Klare enlisted the help of the Cheyenne County Chamber of Commerce, the Veterans Service Office, Sidney e3, the Nebraska Department of Labor and Western Nebraska Community College to reach out to veterans and let them know that there are many groups an individuals ready and willing to help them get their businesses off the ground or into a better position to take advantage of new opportunities.

On Wednesday, a Veterans Town Hall was held at the Elks Lodge, and Veterans Service Officer Fred Wiedeburg kicked off the event, that had over forty attendees interested in various aspects of opening, expanding or getting assistance for their businesses.

The town hall had speakers from the organizations Klare asked to help, and they all presented the group information about what type of aid each of their groups was ready to offer.

Toshia Jones, Chamber of Commerce President, stressed the importance of the Chambers' website as a resource for everything from potential customers to rental properties. Whitney Whatley of the Veterans Service Office explained how they can help veterans with all types of assistance with their businesses as they strive to make the area "veteran-centric". Sarah Sinnett of Sidney e3 explained how the group recently received a grant for $270,000 for an "Entrepreneurial Navigator" to help veterans manage the processes to establish businesses, secure licenses and get started in a positive fashion.

Klare reiterated the importance of having your business established with the necessary licenses and permits and ready to go as the Sentinel Project will have set-asides for veteran-owned contractors, while the Nebraska Department of Labor will have funding available for training and other resources necessary for small businesses. The importance of a proper business plan was discussed and how the Chamber of Commerce can help business owners create them, and how SourceLink Nebraska, offers mentors that can help entrepreneurs navigate the challenges of business start-ups. The Chamber of Commerce signed up six new member businesses as a result of the town hall.

The Cheyenne County area has many resources to help veterans looking to start a business. The Cheyenne County Chamber of Commerce is a good place to start, but there are many other groups that offer assistance. The groups that attended the town hall can be contacted by phone or email.

Cheyenne County Chamber of Commerce, Toshia Jones – 308-254-5851 or [email protected] Economic Development Director, Jeff Klare – 308-249-4870 or [email protected] Veterans Service Office, Whitney Whatley – 308-254-3300 or [email protected] Sidney e3, Sarah [email protected] Nebraska Department of Labor, Melissa McFarlin-308-254-4026 or [email protected] Western Nebraska Community College, Mike Millikin-308-635-6152 or [email protected]


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