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State program helps veterans start businesses

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. will put $150,000 into a new fund aimed at seeding start-up companies run by military veterans and helping them to hit the ground running.

The investment will make Wisconsin the first state to launch such a seed fund to support veteran-owned businesses, Gov. Scott Walker said in a statement. It will be the first of several investments the state commerce agency wants to make to help Wisconsin companies formed by military veterans, officials said.

The fund will be managed by Veteran Entrepreneurial Transfer Inc., a Milwaukee nonprofit group formed a little more than a year ago with a two-year, $3.2 million contract from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

VETransfer will use $100,000 of the money from the state to establish the seed fund. That $100,000 should provide an estimated 15 grants to veteran-owned start-ups, said Paul Jadin, the commerce agency's chief executive officer.

The remaining $50,000 will support an effort to market the fund to potential contributors, said Greg Meier, a VETransfer co-founder.
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The grants will help address one of the biggest problems for businesses started by veterans, who may have been deployed overseas or lived in multiple locations and don't have assets such as equity in a home, Meier said.

"It solves that major problem where a company just goes beyond the founder's credit card by giving access to that really all-important seed money that is so hard to get hold of," said Ted Lasser, another co-founder.

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