ELKHART — U.S. Rep Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., visited a veteran-owned business on Monday to discuss a bipartisan bill she co-sponsored intended to help veterans start small businesses.
The congresswoman got a tour of the Express Employment Professionals office in Elkhart, which is a staffing company that helps connect job-seekers with employers.
Afterward, she and staff met to discuss her bill, Veteran Entrepreneurs Act, co-sponsored by Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Calif.
The Veteran Entrepreneurs Act would lower up-front costs for veterans opening a franchise by cutting red tape and creating a tax credit to cover 25 percent of initial franchise fees.
According to the International Franchise Association’s VetFran program, more than 6,500 veterans have become franchise business owners since 2011. The bipartisan bill, which Walorski introduced earlier this year, would help even more veterans do so, her team said.
Walorski said the idea came to her and Brownley after they served on Veterans Affairs committees and heard firsthand what veterans needed and what lawmakers could do better to assist veterans in being successful when they come home.
“There’s so much sacrifice from veterans and their family,” she said. “They come home and the government promises all these great things that they are going to do to greet them, and many times, the government is not holding up to their end of the bargain.”
“This is a way to help continue to say thank you and do everything we can to help veterans get into an entrepreneur position so they can become CEOs and become job creators. It’s just a win-win,” Walorski said.
Norm Robertson is an Air National Guard veteran and owns three Express Employment franchises in Indiana.
Robertson said the bill Walorski’s trying to enact into law would have saved him $25,000 when he first tried opening his business.
“When you’re starting up and you’re trying to get a business going, having those extra dollars could mean opening your business or not opening your business,” he said.
He said 20 percent of people he employs at his organization are veterans and lauded Walorski’s efforts in helping them progress as entrepreneurs.
“The truth is veterans give back to communities in many different ways,” Robertson said. “Having the congresswoman here and being able to shine additional light on the veteran community is tremendous.”
The bill has been referred for consideration to the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee.