Page 33 - Scene Magazine 42-10 October 2017
P. 33

Local Interest
Helping the Veteran Small Business Owner
BY VALERIE BYRNES
Veteran’s Day is approaching. Do you know if your fa- vorite restaurant or service station may be Veteran-owned? What about your attorney or ac- countant? Veterans
of the U.S. armed services are embed- ded in the Battle Creek community and are helping to grow the local economy through small business ownership here and across the nation.
A recent study conducted by the Small Business Administration (SBA) indicated that Veterans are at least 45 percent more likely than those with no military experience to be entrepreneurs. The SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD) reports that U.S. military Veterans own 2.4 million busi- nesses, or nearly 1 in 10 of all businesses nationwide.
On the local front, Cereal City Development Corporation/Economic Development Fund (EDF) has begun outreach efforts to better understand the needs, growth plans and background of our small business owners across the city, including our Veteran population. “Better understanding the needs of all local small businesses will allow us (EDF) to proactively provide resourc- es for greater growth,” noted Valerie
Byrnes, Business Development and Retention Manager.
Battle Creek’s history is intertwined with the United States military having formerly been home to a bustling mili- tary base and currently to the Fort Custer Training Center and the DOD at the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center. While both centers provide economic value to the community, local Veterans make sig- nificant contributions as entrepreneurs and business owners. Veterans own busi- nesses in nearly every sector of our local economy; as sole proprietors to large- scale employers.
Local husband and wife team, Charles and Joann Knox are seasoned veterans of creating and operating small businesses. For over 45 years the two have worked tirelessly together to pursue their com- mon goals. As proprietors of Rafaynee Southern Cuisine, located within the heart of Downtown, they bring a culmi- nation of all that that has been learned. Charles, a Spec 4 Army Medic serving between 1970-1972, enlisted hoping to become an air traffic controller, the Army thought otherwise and he was assigned the duty of Medic. While he waited for his orders, he became a cook. Near the end of his term, while on base in Washington State, he managed a mov- ie theater and Joann ran the ticket booth. Later, when back home in Battle Creek, they opened hair salons, clubs, and
promoted live music. A common theme is evident and woven throughout their business ventures, the high value of per- sonal service, quality entertainment, and provision of nourishing food.
Entrepreneur and owner of R.B. Christian, Springfield Metal Recycling and Armour Excavating and Demoli- tion, Dave Armour, notes that a “do or die” trait taken from his days in the military has served him well to balance the multiple responsibilities of business ownership. While always an entrepre- neur at heart, Dave knew the army was the place for his 28 year old “can-do” attitude and became an Army Ranger in the 101st Airborne Division. The tough persona of Dave’s army days is a far cry from the smiling, soft-spoken business owner that did not miss a beat in shar- ing that his greatest pride is his family; notably his five children. Business own- ership has allowed him to explore inter- ests and grow his businesses employing 22 people locally. His advice for new business owners is to lead by example by rolling up your sleeves and partic- ipating in any job you ask of anyone else; the same team attitude he learned in the army.
Remember, there is a story behind every business and business owner and we owe it to them to appreciate their commitment to creating a stronger local economy.
Together...
We are creating a healthy local economy.
Cereal City Development Corporation, City of Battle Creek – Small Business Development Fund
269-966-3355 ext. 1191 | 34 WEST JACKSON STREET, SUITE B
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