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FGCU VETERAN ENTREPRENEURSHIP PROGRAM GRADUATES CAN COMPETE FOR START-UP FUNDING UPON COMPLETION OF PROGRAM

8-week Online Educational Program in Entrepreneurship Almost Fully Subscribed

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Mar. 11, 2016 – Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) Institute for Entrepreneurship announced this week that the FAR-MAR Fund, a fund of the Southwest Florida Community, has committed up to $15,000 for the Veterans Entrepreneurship Program at FGCU. The contribution will award startup funding for the best entrepreneurial idea by program graduates. Each will have the opportunity to present their best idea in a “Letter of Idea” format and the top candidates will step into the Frank Stern Fellowship Compassionate Shark Tank for Veterans hosted by the Southwest Florida Community Foundation in partnership with the Institute of Entrepreneurship. The competition will take place at the end of phase two.

In phase two of the Veterans Entrepreneurship Program, participants will receive face-to-face instruction from business experts and refine their business plans and concepts. The result is a thorough business plan in which each veteran entrepreneur will have ongoing mentorship and follow-up support.

With this donation, participants will have the opportunity to compete for startup funding for their concept. The veteran selected with the most promising venture based on their pitch will receive up to $15,000. And, if warranted, the award could be shared and the first runner up could receive up to $5,000.

Announced earlier this year, the Veteran Entrepreneurship Program is a new entrepreneurial training initiative for veterans in the state seeking to start their own businesses. Anyone categorized as active duty or who has been honorably discharged with an interest in starting a new business is an ideal candidate. Veterans do not need to be enrolled at FGCU to participate, and the three-phase program includes support from Florida Small Business Development consultants and other successful mentors in Phase III to help the new businesses start up and run successfully.

The program begins Mar. 15, 2016. Space is limited and time is running out. Candidates should complete online application as soon as possible by visiting www.FloridaVetBiz.org. For more information about the program offered through the FGCU Institute for Entrepreneurship, please contact Amy Ridgway, program coordinator, at (239) 590-7324 or [email protected]

ABOUT THE VETERANS FLORIDA ENTREPRENEURSHIP PROGRAM
To help translate the skills learned in the military to entrepreneurship, Veterans Florida and the Florida SBDC Network, in partnership with five institutions of higher education, have joined forces to offer the Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program. The program provides an opportunity for qualified veterans to attend an accelerated, eight-week online course, six days of face-to-face instruction at one of five universities, followed by six-months of mentorship from professionally certified Florida SBDC consultants — all at no cost.

ABOUT THE SWFL COMMUNITY FOUNDATION
As leaders, conveners, grant makers and concierges of philanthropy, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is a foundation built on community leadership with an inspired history of fostering regional change for the common good in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Community Foundation, founded in 1976, connects donors and their philanthropic aspirations with evolving community needs. With assets of more than $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $63 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, it granted more than $3.2 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services, as well as provided regional community impact grants and scholarship grants.

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