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

Vest To Speak At Lee’s Winter Commencement

Dr. R. Lamar Vest will return to a familiar setting to deliver the address at Lee University’s winter commencement ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 17. Not only is Dr. Vest an alumnus of Lee, he also served as the school’s president for two years, 1984-86.  Dr. Vest's leadership and influence globally as a minister has included a leading role in the World Pentecostal Fellowship ... (click for more)

Crash Survivor Austin Hatch To Speak At McCallie’s Dr Pepper TEN Classic Luncheon

Austin Hatch will bring his story of survival and perseverance to the McCallie School on the afternoon of Feb. 3, 2017, as the featured speaker at the Mountain View Auto Group Luncheon for the second annual McCallie Dr Pepper TEN Classic basketball showcase.  Mr. Hatch survived two plane crashes before graduating from high school — one in 2003 that killed his mother and ... (click for more)

County Schools Prepare To Set Priorities For Next Round Of School Building Funding

County school board members are gearing up to set priorities for the next round of new school construction in Hamilton County. Lee McDade, assistant superintendent, said officials may know by the spring how much money will be available to build new schools or add on to existing ones - or do a combination of both. Board member Rhonda Thurman said a proposal to build a new Chattanooga ... (click for more)

Walker County Will No Longer Have Full-Time County Attorney Under Whitfield Tenure; Will Add Full-Time Communications Director

Incoming Walker County Sole Commissioner Shannon Whitfield said under his administration there will no longer be a full-time county attorney. "We will outsource this service on a fee basis," he said. Mr. Whitfield said he has begun interviewing attorneys who might be able to help out the county from time to time. Don Oliver has long been the county attorney for Walker County ... (click for more)

Vehicle Emissions Testing Causes More Pollution Than It Prevents - And Response

While a noble cause to make sure vehicles are operating efficiently with the minimum amount of pollutants, a simple analysis makes it somewhat evident the VET program in Chattanooga causes more pollution that it prevents.  Though I don't know how many vehicles are tested on an annual basis, if you assume an average round trip of 10 miles to the nearest testing station (five ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Our Senseless Divide

If I could change one thing about the schools in Chattanooga, my wish would be that everybody could become good friends. I’m talking about the private schools versus the public schools. The rancor is so bad we hardly ever play in sports anymore and what the loathsome TSSAA has done in recent years to the out-numbered private schools is sinful. My dream would be that there would ... (click for more)