VETransfer, a business incubator for veterans, hosted the final leg of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Young Entrepreneurs Series Thursday.
Marie Johns, SBA deputy administrator, hosted a panel of young Milwaukee-area business owners on the sixth stop of the YES tour. The Milwaukee event focused on apprenticeship as a route to entrepreneurship.
The tour also stopped in New York, N.Y., San Diego, Calif., Ames, Iowa, Charlotte, N.C. and Tahlequah, Okla. Other themes included rural, technology, veteran and minority entrepreneurship.
The SBA included Milwaukee in the route because of its strong manufacturing and skilled trades background, which can lend themselves to new business start-ups, Johns said. The event was held at VETransfer to assure company leaders there knew the SBA was available to veteran entrepreneurs as well.
“We always stay focused on our veterans,” Johns said. “We have so many returning to the U.S. from active duty and we want to make sure we’re helping them in every possible way.”
The panelists at the event were Jessie Cannizzaro, owner of Milestone Plumbing Inc. in Wauwatosa, Daphne Wilson, owner of Zoe Engineering in Milwaukee, Lexy Frautschy, owner of Ian’s Pizza in Milwaukee, Kevin Autman, owner of Total Property Service Group in Milwaukee and Ugo Nwagbaraocha, owner of Diamond Discs International in West Aliis.
Each of them was able to start his or her business because of training and apprenticeship in the field.
Frautschy, for example, worked for Ian’s Pizza in Madison during college and then helped expand the business to Milwaukee, where he owns the independent Ian’s Pizza restaurant at 2035 E. North Ave.
Nwagbaraocha was also promoted from within at Diamond Discs, where he acquired the company from its original owners.
Johns also announced a collaboration with the Department of Labor to provide an entrepreneurship curriculum at Job Corps sites around the country.
The tour and related courses are meant to aid potential business owners and also let them know which resources are available to them through the SBA, she said.
“Small businesses are the job creators in our country,” Johns said. “We want to make sure the SBA is there and part of the story for the next stage of entrepreneurs.”
–Molly Newman is a reporter at BizTimes Milwaukee.