BATON ROUGE, La. -- This Veterans Day, Louisiana Economic Development and the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs are celebrating the contributions of Louisiana's military veterans and making both veterans and the general public aware of state business opportunities for veterans.
Launched in 2009, Louisiana's Veterans Initiative is a year-round program that expands opportunities for veteran-owned businesses to provide goods and services through state contracts. The Department of Veterans Affairs encourages state agencies to conduct business with firms owned by veterans and certified by LED.
Upon certification, small businesses owned by veterans and disabled veterans can receive additional points when state agencies evaluate bids and proposals, with those businesses gaining a competitive edge of up to 10 percent when business proposals are evaluated.
The Veterans Initiative program is informally known as LAVETBIZ, and the departments of Economic Development and Veterans Affairs collaborate on a database of certified small businesses owned by veterans and disabled veterans. To date, more than 400 LAVETBIZ small businesses have been certified at www.ledsmallbiz.com.
"The LAVETBIZ Veterans Initiative provides veteran entrepreneurs a tremendous opportunity to grow and expand their businesses when they seek contracts through the State of Louisiana," said Secretary Lane Carson , secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. "I am proud that our state supports its heroes through this initiative, and I encourage all Louisiana veterans who own their business to certify through LAVETBIZ."
Upon certification, veteran-owned businesses are encouraged to register as vendors with the Office of State Purchasing, which will provide them daily email alerts about state bid opportunities.
"We're delighted that hundreds of veteran-owned businesses in Louisiana have become certified for this program," said LED Secretary Stephen Moret. "The initiative does not guarantee that a veteran entrepreneurship will be awarded state business. What it does is recognize the unique and valuable skill sets these business owners have assembled while serving our country."
Teknarus LLC, a Denham Springs technology solutions company, gained certification in LAVETBIZ that led to the firm winning several state contracts in the $30,000 to $50,000 range. Teknarus President Devin Zito, who served eight years as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, founded his company in 2000.
"LAVETBIZ is a great way for veteran-owned businesses to differentiate themselves from other companies," Zito said. "There's a value in being able to help others: LAVETBIZ provides those opportunities, and I'm proud to be a part of this initiative."
Teknarus has grown from two to 11 employees, and the exposure to state contract work helped the company spread word to other clients about the firm's capabilities in hardware and software support, graphic design, website hosting and development, custom software support and more.
To participate in the initiative, a veteran-owned small business must meet criteria that include having its principal business office in Louisiana, having fewer than 50 employees and having annual sales that do not exceed $5 million for construction businesses and $3 million for other operations in each of the previous three tax years.
Visit OpportunityLouisiana.com to apply for the Veterans Initiative or call LED at 225.342.5677.