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

Lee's Summer Honors Program Has Record Attendance

Lee University’s Summer Honors residential program concluded another two-week term, exposing high-achieving students to numerous aspects of college life at Lee.  This year’s Summer Honors drew 173 students to Lee’s campus, an all-time record for attendance.   While at Summer Honors, students got a head start on their college career by earning six hours of academic ... (click for more)

Gail Phillips Of Chattanooga Elected Tennessee State PTA President

The Tennessee PTA has elected Gail Phillips of Chattanooga to serve as the president of the Tennessee Congress of Parents and Teachers Association.  Ms. Phillips passion and journey began when her children started kindergarten at McBrien Elementary School in East Ridge. She has served in local, council, and state level positions throughout her PTA journey. ... (click for more)

Fuel Spill Shuts Down Westbound Traffic At I-24/Hwy. 27 Split; Multiple Vehicles Involved In Crash

Chattanooga Police on Saturday morning were at the scene of a traffic crash involving an 18-wheeler at the I-24/Hwy. 27 split in the westbound lanes. At 7:33 p.m., police said I -24 westbound was shut down due to a fuel spill from the crash. E mergency crews were working to clear the roadway. The wreck blocked the freeway for several hours. T raffic was diverted ... (click for more)

Plumbers Bring Complaints To WWTA; Told New Contracts Are Ready

Several plumbers on Thursday brought complaints to a committee of the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority (WWTA) and got little response other than being told that new contracts are ready. Kay Keefe of Keefe Plumbing said the small number of plumbing companies still participating in the program to repair leaky lines to homes, have long been operating without ... (click for more)

Could The Marriage Decision Spark A New Independence Day?

I confess that this year I am having a hard time with the idea of celebrating the 4th of July Independence Day. It is not because I am not thankful to God for what was done on that day, what it represents, and the blessings I’ve experienced that flow from it. On the other hand, I want to think that maybe this year’s celebration will mark a period in our history in which a new movement ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Fourth Of July, 2015

As one who is about good and fed up with being “socially correct” so less than 10 percent of us can dictate how the other 90 percent of us ought to think, I am going to pause today in order to share a wonderfully fun email that has been around for a while. It is aptly called, “You Could Have Heard A Pin Drop.” Before I do, I got a sweet note the other day from my dear friend ... (click for more)