Study: NC ranks No. 10 for vet-owned businesses; Fayetteville tops in mid-sized metros

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RALEIGH – Just in time for Memorial Day, new data shows just how important veterans are to North Carolina’s businesses. The state ranks No. 10 for veteran-owned businesses, while Fayetteville landed the top spot for mid-sized metros, according to a report

In the Old North State, 6.9% of all businesses are owned by veterans — a total of 11,728 businesses employing 198,705 workers. That equates to an annual revenue of $5 billion or more per year, cited Hire A Helper. Nationally, New Hampshire scored first with 9.3%, followed by Virginia (8.8%) and Georgia (8.1%).

On a micro level, Fayetteville placed No.1 for mid-sized metros with 604, or 11.6%, of all businesses owned by veterans.

That’s not too shabby, says industry experts. But more could still be done.

“I’d love to see if we could double or triple that,” said Blake Hogan, executive director of Bunker Labs, a Nashville-based nonprofit dedicated to serving military and military family entrepreneurs. The group launched a chapter in the Triangle in 2015; it’s now based out of WeWork in Raleigh.

“The talent exists in North Carolina and across the nation.”

Others were blunter.

“Frankly, this report is not something for North Carolina to write home about,” said Rich Camacho, CEO of veteran startup BlueRecruit, on GrepBeat’s Friday Nooner this week. “Given that we’re home to Ft Bragg, [one of] the largest military bases in the world, it is actually disappointing to learn that we do not rank higher.”

The retired army captain founded BlueRecruit, a job marketplace designed for the unique skills and needs of blue-collar workers, in October 2018. He credits the local ecosystem and organizations like BunkerLabs for helping him launch, but he believes the state needs to step up more.

“It could be as simple as waiving income tax on military retirement, or first-year property taxes,” he clarified later. “It would pay enormous dividends to incentivize retirees to remain in our state and build the next chapter of their lives right here.”


More than 659,000 military veterans live in North Carolina, representing roughly 6.1% of the state’s population, a study based on Census data found. That puts it around No. 25 for all states.

Yet the state is the ninth most populous state and ranks in the top four for largest military population. Home to many military bases, including Fort Bragg, which is just over an hour to the south, the state counts 122,214 active-duty members.

Tim Horan is co-founder of Atlas, a Durham-based training and employment guide for the military community. He wonders what could be accomplished if North Carolina attracted and retained event more veterans. “While we should celebrate our veteran entrepreneurs, we should naturally strive to do more, starting with attracting and retaining more veterans,” he said.

For the last few years, the retired U.S. Army company commander with a tour of duty in Afghanistan under his belt has been a presence in the local startup scene helping veterans well suited to transition into tech and entrepreneurship.

He believes the state could offer a number of new incentives. Among them: allowing veterans to access GI Bill money to support their entrepreneurial endeavors, or installing a work opportunity tax credit where the state matches or provides tax credit.

He said the state could provide tax deferments or exemptions to investors that invest in veteran-owned businesses regardless of geographical area within the state. “This already popular program among angels and venture capital firms in the Triangle, and it would encourage more investors to fund veteran-owned businesses, which would attract and retain more veterans.”

Hogan agreed.

“States can be a lot more innovative,” he said. “We’re about to go into a tough economic session, potentially a recession. Veterans are proven to be nearly twice as successful over their civilian peers. These are incredible leaders that can go create great companies. There’s a lot that the state can be doing to improve that.”

Side note: On Wednesday, June 1, Bunker Labs will hold its Veterans in Residence Showcase, a nationwide event spanning across 23 cities and 3 virtual cohorts, celebrating over 400 veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs launching their startups and businesses from our recent cohort. For Raleigh-Durham details, go here.

Original Article Source: WRAL