According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, veteran unemployment has been trending downward from an all-time high in 2011. As of May 2017, the veteran unemployment rate is at 3.9%, lower than the national average of 4.4%. While this is a marked improvement in hiring, some veterans have chosen a different path, owning their own business.
The Small Business Administration reports that veterans are 45% more likely to own a business than non-veterans. And there is a myriad of programs available to help veterans start a company. But veterans still account for less than 1% of the US population, and so it’s surprising when there is a cluster of veteran-owned businesses, particularly when they are owned by younger, post-9/11 vets.
The town of Scottsville, VA, boasts a population of just under 600. But within this small rural town there are several veterans making a name for themselves in their own businesses. Both the Scottsville Supply Company, a beekeeping supply store, and Om Tattoo & Massage, are owned by post-9/11 veterans. Heather Stertzer started the Scottsville Supply Company with her wife just two years ago after 10 years in the US Army, including tours to both Iraq and Afghanistan. Chris Hornsby, Marine Corps veteran, opened his tattoo shop also two years ago with his wife Nakahili, a certified massage therapist. Here he not only runs a steady business providing tattoo art, but also has become heavily involved in the Scottsville community.
James River Brewery has two assistant brewers that are also post-9/11 vets. Both Chris Stevens and Gordon Mazza served in the US Army with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. They both love the feel of a small town and love serving their customers.
But not all the veterans in Scottsville are from the most recent wars. Terry Pate is an Air Force veteran that served during the height of the Cold War, from 1977-1985, and the owner of East Main Street Garage. Terry is a mentor to these young veterans and is thrilled that they have come to Scottsville.