With Veterans Day approaching, new efforts are being made to encourage those who served — and their families — to pursue their dreams for opening or expanding small businesses.

Darcella Craven is director the Veterans Business Outreach Center in St. Louis, which serves veteran entrepreneurs in Iowa and four other states. Craven explains the goals of this week’s National Veterans Small Business Week.

“It’s helping to ensure that veterans and military families are educated on the number of resource partners that are out there and available for them to use, many times free of charge,” Craven says, “and that they are still moving down their road map of their business plan for their small business.”

More than 98 percent of the businesses in Iowa are small businesses. Craven says veteran-owned businesses are a critical pillar of the U.S. economy as they contribute more than a trillion dollars to the nation’s annual total sales and receipts.

“Many of those men and women and their families do come back after having served in the military,” Craven says, “they come back with so many valuable resources and experiences that they make really great small business owners because they can put the discipline and the dedication they had in the military into a small business.” The outreach center is working with the Iowa District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration to offer veterans across Iowa both local and virtual events.

“We do in-person seminars, and that could be something as simple as how do I choose the right marketing for my small business,” Craven says. “We also do webinars. We have a webinar series we conduct with the SBA every Wednesday at 11 A.M. That covers a variety of topics from financing your small business to work-life balance.”

She notes veterans continue their service by contributing to the economy and by creating economic opportunities for other Americans.