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Oklahoma program helps veterans start and grow businesses

The Veterans Entrepreneurship Program at Oklahoma State University always has a waiting list, the director says. Plans to expand it include bring more schools on board and partnering with corporations.
by Kathryn McNutt Published: March 5, 2014

Helping disabled veterans start and grow businesses is life-changing for the veterans and those who work with them, Craig Watters told the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education during their meeting Wednesday.

Watters gave an update on the Veterans Entrepreneurship Program at Oklahoma State University and plans to expand it. He is director of the Riata Center at OSU’s School of Entrepreneurship.

“What we hope they get from this is a chance to make their dreams real, to find some self-worth,” Watters said following his presentation. “And if they have self-worth, to enhance that self-worth. ‘Yes you can start a business, and yes your experiences are important. You mean something to us and your business can mean a lot to the economy.’”

Through workshops, panels, discussion and mentoring, the program helps program participants work toward their dreams of business ownership.

“We take veterans from all wars,” Watters said. “We have a waiting list always.”

Only 25 veterans are selected each year from the 100 to 150 applicants so the faculty can “get to know them, to work with them personally,” he said. “We listen a lot to what they have to say.”

The program is free to the veterans, with 90 percent of the funding coming from private donations and the rest from grants and the school, he said.

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by Kathryn McNutt
Higher Education Reporter
Kathryn McNutt covers higher education for The Oklahoman and NewsOK. Since joining the staff in August 2000, she also has worked as the Breaking News editor, Metro editor and assistant Local editor. A native of Oklahoma City, she graduated from...
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