Guidant Financial Pledges Assistance to Veteran Business Startups

Bellevue-based company says it will offer a dozen entrepreneurial scholarships to veterans starting businesses over the next year

Bellevue-based has announced that it plans to offer a dozen entrepreneurial scholarships over the next year, plus discounts for veterans with small businesses to use its services.

The effort is coordinated with the International Franchise Association (IFA) and its goal to recruit or hire 80,000 veterans and their families by 2014. For Guidant’s part, David Nilssen, co-founder of the company, said at a press conference Thursday afternoon Guidant is committing to help 500 veterans by 2014.

The company assists small business owners in securing financing for their businesses through such tools as SBA loans or rollovers from IRA or 401k plans into business financing, and about 11 percent of its client base consists of veterans. Each month for the next 12 months, Guidant will offer its services free of charge to one veteran, to be selected in part from nominations by the IFA. In addition, Guidant is offering a 10 percent discount to all veterans for its services.

“Our motto is ‘create the life you want,” Nilssen said.

U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee attended the press conference to give his support for the efforts of companies such as Guidant, which are part of a nationwide focus on combatting high levels of unemployment among veterans. Nearly 12 percent of veterans are currently unemployed, and among veterans under 25 years old, the number jumps to 22 percent.

“This is not just a duty, it’s good for the economy of the U.S.,” Inslee said, citing the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act, which overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives this week.

One of Guidant’s outside legal counselors, who the company contracts to give legal advice to its clients, is Capt. Frank Selden, an Army National Guardsman. Selden said though he hasn’t been a Guidant client himself, working with the company as outside counsel has helped him to build up his own law business in Bellevue. Selden said just as he was completing law school, his guard unit was called up for duty in Iraq. At the end of his second tour, Selden was injured in an IED incident, with ongoing medical problems that made it difficult for him to secure a full-time position in his field upon his return. In part through referrals from Guidant, he has been able to carve out a niche that allows him to have a productive career, he said.

“Having a goal to rebuild my life, I just needed an opportunity,” Selden said.



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