The Colorado Enterprise Fund today launched a new loan program, called Veteran Access Loan Opportunity Resource (VALOR), to support military veterans and Gold Star families in their business ventures in Colorado.
CEF is a nonprofit organization that provides financial and educational assistance to small business owners. It offers loans up to $500,000 to finance small businesses and startups that are unable to obtain funding through traditional banks or credit unions.
“Although military veterans possess the skills and discipline to be successful small business owners, access to affordable capital continues to be a challenge,” CEF President and CEO Ceyl Prinster said in an email.
She said the VALOR program provides discounted loan rates and extended terms for veterans.
“We want to make it easier for those who dream of owning their own businesses to get the financing and support they need to succeed with our VALOR program,” Prinster said.
The program will offer a loan rate that is discounted 2 percent from standard CEF rates, with agreements up to 10 years and interest-only periods of six months for existing veteran-owned businesses as well as startups. CFE provides loans for working capital, equipment, inventory, property improvements, business purchases and commercial real estate.
“This loan program is the first of its kind to be offered by a Colorado Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), and is the first program in the state to also be available to Gold Star families,” Prinster said.
Gold Star families are surviving spouses and children of veterans.
A CDFI is a lending institution that provides credit and financial services to underserved markets and populations.
CEF announced its VALOR program at several events and workshops for veterans and their families in Colorado Springs and Pueblo during National Veterans Small Business Week, Oct. 30-Nov. 3.
“We have sponsored past veterans programs hosted by our Colorado Springs small business partner, Pikes Peak Small Business Development Center, and felt news about the VALOR program would reach more of their clients [by announcing it at the workshops],” Prinster said.
Information on VALOR was also distributed during a “Boots to Business” program last week at Fort Carson.
While CEF has not previously offered a formal program for military veterans and their families, over the past two decades the lending organization has provided 30 loans to veterans in Colorado totaling $1.2 million, Prinster said. These loans, averaging $37,000, have created 200 jobs and allowed for the retention of nearly 100 jobs in the state in the manufacturing, retail trade, services and transportation sectors.
Prinster said CEF has assisted veteran-owned businesses in Colorado Springs such as dentist Jonathan Hill, Boulder Street Gallery & Framing, and Snider Custom Homes.
“With 96 percent of Colorado’s economy made up of small businesses, we see the VALOR program supporting more entrepreneurs transitioning out of the military into civilian roles in their local communities,” Prinster said. “This trend will help more local economies to grow and thrive where these veterans live and work.”