AUSTIN (KXAN) — For military veterans who want to become entrepreneurs, the first steps can be the hardest. The city of Austin wants to help by loaning money to local veterans.
Thursday, Mayor Steve Adler, the city’s Economic Development and the Office of Veteran Affairs announced a $250,000 micro loan pool available for veterans to start or expand an existing business locally in Austin.
“Despite Austin being at the top of lists as best city to start a business, the number of veteran-owned businesses in Austin is just over 3,000,” said Adler.
Loans are available up to $35,000 per applicant and start at a 2 percent interest rate, but are variable.
Veteran Sgt. Frederick Richardson was there for the announcement. After serving 14 years with the Army, he decided he wants to enter the civilian battlefield of business — creating a company catered to the artists of Austin.
“Dealing with a managerial position in the military put me in the mindset of saying, ‘Hey, I can control something, hey I can do this,’ and I started to read more and went to school, while I was in Korea, online for business management and that put me on the path to understand business and understand marketing,” Richardson said.
Richardson has a musical background, growing up playing instruments before enlisting. It’s the motivation behind his new business idea, Sky Game Music Studios, which he wants to be a one-stop-shop for artists.
“I want to create a space for vendors to come set up and help these artists with everything from coaching to mentor to management,” Richardson said. “I wanted to start my own business because I love being able to own something and be able to start it from scratch and make it to something that is beautiful.”
But Richardson has struggled to find the funding to get his business going and agrees, the boost from the city’s new loan program could be very beneficial.
The Veteran Business Loan is part of the Family Business Loan Program (FBLP), a public-private partnership between Austin’s Economic Development Department and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“For the men and women who gave to us, it’s now time for us to give to them,” said Allen Bergeron with Austin Veteran Services
With the Veteran Business Loan, a veteran entrepreneur can apply for a micro loan to secure working capital, inventory or supplies, furniture or fixtures, or machinery and equipment.
For more information on the Veteran Business Loan, call 512-978-2502 to speak with a Loan Program Advisor.