HSU Backs Veteran Entrepreneurs Across California through New Outreach Center

Noah Harris
Veteran small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs across California can access free business training and counseling thanks to Humboldt State University’s Veterans Business Outreach Center (NorCal VBOC). With a $258,000 award from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the center will serve veterans in all 50 California counties north of Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino.


Recently appointed NorCal VBOC Director Noah Harris oversees in-person operations in Fairfield, California; the location was selected for its proximity to large military bases. One other VBOC serves Southern California veterans through an office in San Diego.

The VBOC’s core programming is focused on business training, which will be offered in both in-person and online formats. Veteran entrepreneurs and business owners often face a degree of culture shock when transitioning from military to civilian life, explains Harris. Working with experienced veterans who share a common background can be empowering and effective.

“Our mission is to help veterans adapt and deploy their military service readiness skills into their small business goals,” says Harris. “From business training, counseling, mentoring and resources, we’re here to help veterans reach and sustain their business success.”

HSU’s Small Business Development Center, NorCal SBDC, played a pivotal role in helping to win the five-year contract from the SBA for the new veterans center, in addition to securing another $181,000 in funding from the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development.

Kristin Johnson, NorCal SBDC’s executive director, explains that NorCal VBOC will operate as a complementary program to the one-on-one business consulting model at SBDC. Retired veterans will be contracted by the VBOC as consultants.

VBOC is a place for veterans who are interested in entrepreneurship or exploring what self-employment is all about,” says Johnson. “This will include basics such as accounting, and marketing, along with sales channel development and business strategy.”

Like all VBOCs nationwide, the Fairfield center will provide support for special veteran populations, including the Women Veteran and Service-Disabled Veteran Entrepreneurship Training Programs. Additionally, every VBOC delivers the SBA’s successful Boots to Business program, which provides military-to-career support for active veterans transitioning out of the service. The Boots to Business Reboot is open to all veterans, in addition to Reserve and National Guard members and military spouses.

HSU has been ranked as a military-friendly school by G.I. Jobs magazine. Currently, the University’s Veterans Enrollment and Transitions Services (VETS) program provides academic and college-to-career support to student vets. Now, VETS will partner with NorCal VBOC, a collaboration that will provide comprehensive and specialized career resources for veterans in the HSU community and across California.

“Veterans Business Outreach Centers create a vital support system for military and veteran entrepreneurs nationwide, which is a key part of the SBA’s mission. It is an honor to welcome Humboldt State University into the VBOC network,” says Larry Stubblefield, associate administrator for SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development.

For more information, visit norcalvboc.org.

About HSU’s NorCal Small Business Development Center
Established in 2006, NorCal SBDC serves 36 Northern California counties, supporting nearly 45,000 small businesses from Aptos near Santa Cruz to Crescent City. In addition to offering one-on-one business consulting, the nonprofit is a resource for accurate and timely information about local, state, and federal programs. The SBDC is fully funded by federal and state grants and does not take any funds from HSU.