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

Normal Park 6th Grade Students Learn About 3D Printing

Normal Park 6th grade students were captivated by Alex Cruikshank as he facilitated a brief demonstration and Q&A session on additive manufacturing through 3D printing on Wednesday. A programmer by trade, Cruikshank has quickly developed a passion and strong knowledge base about 3D printing. In the demonstration, he showed Normal Park students a variety of examples of 3D printed ... (click for more)

Local Colleges Receive National Accolades

Two Chattanooga-area colleges are receiving national recognition for excellence. Covenant College and Bryan College were ranked by U.S. News & World Reports among the top 25 Southern colleges.   In addition, Bryan College ranked as the #7 best value among all Southern colleges. U.S. News calculated value based on cost of attendance for students and quality of the education ... (click for more)

Teen, 17, Charged With Aggravated Rape In Attack On 69-Year-Old North Chattanooga Runner

A 17-year-old has been charged with aggravated rape in connection with an attack on a 69-year-old runner in North Chattanooga on Monday morning. The teen was identified by Juvenile Court officials as Diontae Smartt. Authorities said he has given a confession. Smartt has a detention hearing Thursday at 12:30. The incident happened at approximately 7:30 a.m. ... (click for more)

Berke Implements New Pay Plan For Chattanooga Fire Department

Mayor Andy Berke joined the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and leadership of the Chattanooga Fire Department to unveil the department’s new pay plan Wednesday afternoon. At a press conference at Fire Hall #1 on Main Street, Mayor Berke and IAFF Local 820 President Jack Thompson signed a memorandum of understanding which sets forth regular raises for fire ... (click for more)

Leaders Lead On Amendment 1

This week the Hamilton County Commission was faced with what I believe may be one of the most important votes they have cast during their tenure.  Granted, the vote was over a "mere" Resolution that resulted in no overt action or new law in our county.  But there are times when simply speaking Truth and taking a stand on a foundational Principle is paramount and as such ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Expert Reasons Why To Vote

Early voting for the November election begins two weeks from today so please jump-start your plans that will assure your choices will be counted. In a fun-filled attempt to show what some of those who actually vote do during the rest of the day, I offer two examples of “those who live among us” from experts. The first are a series of questions from readers of “Dear Abby” who ask ... (click for more)