FREEHOLD – A new Monmouth County veteran-owned business initiative could kick off this year.
The goal is to provide a way to identify and showcase veteran-owned businesses in the county, as well as help veterans network among themselves to start, run and expand their businesses.
“Our veterans are among the best, brightest and most capable people anywhere,” said Freeholder Lillian G. Burry before a large audience at the annual reorganization meeting of the country board Jan. 3.
“And I believe it is in our best interest to find new ways to convince them that Monmouth County is the place they want to live and work and succeed.” The vision, still in its infancy, may take several years to develop, Burry said.
“When it comes to fruition, the program will allow these veterans to make the contacts they need and give them the tools they need to grow develop and grow their businesses,” she said in an interview with The Two River Times Jan. 28. “This is something that the entire Freeholder Board is interested in pursuing.”
Offering support are Atlantic Highlands councilman Steve Boracchio and Hazlet committeeman Jim “Skip” McKay. Both served in the Navy.
Also, the Monmouth Ocean Small Business Development Center on the Brookdale Community campus in Lincroft has indicated it can help promote the initiative.
“They were the first group that reached out to me and offered to help launch this program,” Burry said of the resource center, which provides small businesses with education, expert advice and entrepreneurial support services.
“Now it’s a matter of getting everyone together and detailing a plan that will best serve these veteran entrepreneurs,” Burry said. “Veterans have an understanding of life and of what’s important. They are a very industrious group of people who have seen and done a lot. If anyone is capable of taking an idea and making it a reality, it’s them.”
Burry said she hopes an investment in local veteran-owned businesses will prompt these entrepreneurs to seek out other military veterans with similar interests, and grow what she referred to as a “post-military community” in Monmouth County.
This initiative is just the latest in a long line of military-minded ventures supported by Burry.
In April 2018, the freeholder cut the ribbon on a satellite Veterans’ Connection office at Fort Monmouth, a resource facility that offers veterans and their dependents convenient access and assistance to services and benefits.
She was also instrumental in establishing a VA clinic in Tinton Falls and has been a supporter of the Marine Academy of Science and Technology and the county vocational school’s Coast Guard JROTC program.
Burry’s appreciation and respect for the men and women of served in the armed forces comes from being at the side of her husband, Don, a retired U.S. Coast Guard captain.
“Being married to him has instilled such a sense of understanding and gratitude for what these men and women do,” Burry said. “And the fact is we don’t do enough for them in return. That’s why I’ve always supported our veterans when the opportunity presents itself. And some would say, even when an opportunity did not present itself.”
This article was first published in the Feb.7-14, 2019 print edition of The Two River Times.
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