COB Teaches Veteran Entrepreneurs

Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Courtney R. Lewis
Courtney R. Lewis

Courtney R. Lewis called the third consecutive Veterans Entrepreneurship Program offered at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga a “tough but very rewarding experience.”

Ms. Lewis served in the Army from 2000-2010 as an electronic maintenance tech, recruiter, and a trainer for newly enlisted soldiers. She currently owns her own production company producing commercials, promos, company training videos, educational videos, and voiceovers.

“Sometimes when people get out of the military, they feel they are forgotten.  UTC brought a lot of veterans together as a team.  I have been saying 'we owe you success.'  So many in the community have pulled together for this effort.

  We owe you success,” she said.

As she learned to grow her production company successfully, Ms. Lewis disclosed a personal goal to assist homeless veterans.

Ms. Lewis, of Hermitage, Tn., was one of 16 disabled and service distinguished veterans selected from a pool of 150 who spent a weeklong “boot camp” on campus.  They honed a business plan with the help of UTC faculty and guest entrepreneurs, and met with community leaders and top military officials.

Before they came to campus, participants in the VEP had already completed a five-week, online self-study to help them develop their business concepts and prepare for their time at UTC. The eight-day residency was intense, rigorous and demanding. A full range of business topics were presented, from cash flow management and human resources issues to patenting and marketing products and services.

“I came in thinking I knew a lot, but working with the faculty in the VEP taught me how to start and run a business with emphasis on marketing, sales, how to pitch a project, the market…everything you need for a successful business.  I believe I’ve gained the leadership and ability to move forward,” said Glen Shackley of Angels Camp, Ca.

Mr. Shackley, who served in the U.S. Army for five years as a graphic illustrator for strategic commanders, is working to launch five related businesses in five years.  They include paintings, photography, and sculpture of military memorabilia specifically marketed to those who serve and have served in the military.  His goal is to produce quality artistry while he employs service disabled veterans.

Now that participants have graduated from the VEP, they will receive 10 months of ongoing support from entrepreneurship experts at the UTC College of Business and online peer networking. This allows the participants to get feedback regarding their ventures and provides access to professionals who can answer specific questions and offer extended hands-on guidance.

The UTC VEP was created by Dr. Mike Morris and is based on a successful model at Oklahoma State University. The program, created in direct response to the challenges faced by service disabled veterans with physical or psychological disabilities, is hosted by the UTC College of Business in partnership with Oklahoma State and the University of Florida.

“The VEP builds on the skills that veterans learn from their military careers and helps them focus those skills toward the creation of new ventures through intense entrepreneurial training and mentoring,” said Dr. Robert Dooley, dean of the UTC College of Business. “Our goal is to help veterans create businesses as a means to their own financial wellbeing, and we are honored to provide the VEP to those that have done so much for this country.”

Jeremey Chapin, who served in the U.S. Army, is a 2013 VEP graduate. He began making hand-crafted pens as therapy and decided to use his skills to start a business—Woodworks.  “I closed my first sale during the boot camp last year to a contact I made at one of the VEP networking events,” he said.

The VEP is free to eligible veterans who are selected for the program. Travel expenses, lodging and meals for the boot camp are provided at no cost to the delegate. The costs of the VEP are underwritten by sponsors, including Walden Security, and private donors, with operations and program development provided by the UTC College of Business.

An application for the 2015 Veterans Entrepreneurship Program will be available after January 1, 2015, on the UTC College of Business website.

Glen Shackley
Glen Shackley


Student Essay Contest To Focus On Citizenship

 The Tennessee Secretary of State's office is kicking off its second annual student essay contest to encourage students to be actively engaged citizens. The essays will focus on citizenship with length requirements varying by grade level. Schools may submit two essays for kindergarten through second grade, third through fifth grade, sixth through eighth grade and ninth through ... (click for more)

Love For Lumberton Project At Chattanooga State

Before Hurricane Irma unleashed her fury, there was Hurricane Harvey, which heavily flooded Houston and the surrounding areas – among them was Lumberton, TX, a small town near Beaumont with just under 12,000 residents. The town, virtually underwater, is hometown to Associate Professor Erica Lux, who naturally was worried about her family and friends there. The flood waters have ... (click for more)

Prosecutor Asks Jury To Find Morse Guilty In Massacre At Lookout Valley RV Park

Prosecutor Cameron Williams on Tuesday asked a Criminal Court jury to find Derek Morse guilty of three counts of first-degree murder as well as attempted first-degree murder in a massacre at a Lookout Valley RV Park on April 9, 2014. Morse, who was 19 at the time, is standing trial in the courtroom of Judge Barry Steelman. Skyler Allen, who was 22 when the shots rang out, ... (click for more)

Defense Will Not Get Federal Witness In Trial Of Truck Driver Charged In Wreck That Killed 6 People

The federal government is resisting sending a lab technician from Oklahoma to Chattanooga for next week's trial of Benjamin Brewer, who is charged in the wreck at Ooltewah that claimed six lives. Mike Little of the public defender's office said the defense should be entitled to have a live witness, but he also said he did not want the trial delayed again. A jury was selected ... (click for more)

Tired Of Property Tax Increases

Why is it every time the city of Chattanooga and Hamilton County want to raise money they have to punish the homeowners?  I'm sick of the few paying for the many.   If you want to be fair, I would not complain on a 1/2 cent local sales tax raise since everyone would have to contribute their fair share.  Or how about a wheel tax which would get everyone who owns ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Where’s God In This?

Over half of Florida is still trying to catch its breath and now there is another murderer, one named Maria, mauling Puerto Rico this morning on her way to the United States. On August 25 Hurricane Harvey hit Texas. It killed an estimated 50 people, displaced more than a million people and damaged some 200,000 homes in a path of more than 300 miles. The bills haven’t been sent out ... (click for more)