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Pandemic has disproportionately impacted veteran-owned businesses, as Wisconsin group asks for government aid

There hasn’t been pandemic-related economic relief since the spring
Published: Nov. 15, 2020 at 10:10 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Dwight Weber is a military veteran who nearly three years ago took a leap of faith by starting his own business.

“I’ve always kind of been independent and wanted to run and own my own business,” Weber said.

He runs Window Genie and joins a list of 2.5 million veteran-owned businesses in the United States, according to data from the Small Business Administration.

Weber said veterans face obstacles, especially during the transition from military to civilian life.

“Multiple deployments that’s very hard on individuals and families as well, so I think that definitely has an impact on it,” Weber said. “But to serve this country and to serve the people in it is a great honor.”

So far he said the pandemic has been a boom for his business as people stay home.

“The pandemic for us, it actually has not been a negative impact,” Weber said. “We’re actually going to grow again in our third year, year over year, in our top line revenue.”

Yet, that isn’t true for everyone as the pandemic has cast a long shadow on small businesses, especially those run by veterans.

“Veteran-owned businesses are more likely to have had to scale back their operations, had to scale back their hours, in some cases their employees, at a much greater rate than non-veteran owned businesses,” Saul Newton, executive director of the Wisconsin Veterans Chambers of Commerce, said.

Newton’s organization helps point vets to funding resources, such as low-interest loans and grants.

“We’re kind of at the mercy of circumstances here, right? As much as we might try, we’re not going to be able to wish or will the virus away,” Newton said.

Newton added that veterans learn in boot camp and in the battlefield how to be resilient, and some have pivoted to other revenue streams as COVID-19 erodes their bottom line.

Still, he emphasizes the need for more aid from the state and federal government to survive.

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