Retired Air Force Veteran Creates a Nonprofit Serving Veteran/Military Business Owners
New England Veterans Chamber of Commerce is based in Belchertown
BELCHERTOWN—A retired United States Air Force veteran has created a nonprofit called New England Veterans Chamber of Commerce (NEVCC), under the umbrella of the United States Veterans Chamber of Commerce. NEVCC caters to businesses owned by veterans of the military, active military, the National Guard, the United States Reserves, and their family members, throughout New England.
NEVCC Executive Director Lisa Ducharme of Belchertown created the organization a year ago to connect the 140,000 military-owned businesses in New England to one another and to provide them with resources.
The NEVCC assists military-involved business owners with advertising, advocacy, and networking. “We have designed a campaign to bring attention to our businesses to help with awareness and experience business growth,” Ducharme said. “We collaborate throughout New England with organizations including the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center, Quabbin Mediation, SCORE, the Small Business Administration, VETRN Streetwise MBA, and the Veteran Business Outreach Centers.”
“We are not reinventing the wheel. We are always looking for resources and ways to help our businesses who are military-connected,” Ducharme added. “One of the most important things I learned is that no one can do it alone.”
Currently, Ducharme is focused on a “Buy from a Veteran-Owned Business New England” campaign with the tagline, “Thank you for your service. Buy veteran-owned.” The goal is to raise awareness of veteran-owned and active military businesses.
“I hope to help create communities that connect military-owned businesses together,” Ducharme said. “I also want to host events, including military-connected business expos, round table conversations, networking events, and also be a part of job fairs, military appreciation events, and Veteran Small Town Expos.”
“If you are looking for a veteran-owned business and can’t find one, email us at Lisa@NEVCC.org, and we will help you find them,” Ducharme said.
Ducharme is also looking for people to mentor veteran business owners or host events or workshops for veteran-owned businesses. “We are always looking for networking opportunities for our veterans and business owners,” she said.
Sharing posts about veteran-owned businesses on social media is also encouraged; NEVCC will use the hashtags #BuyVOBNE and #BuyveteranNE. On Facebook and Twitter, search for @NEVCC2018, and, on LinkedIn, new-england-veterans-chamber-of-commerce.
“Partner with a veteran-owned business, not just in November,” said Ducharme, adding, “Hire a veteran. In Massachusetts, in our career centers, there are representatives who help veterans find jobs.”
Veteran business owners are invited to visit www.NEVCC.org.
Ducharme is the daughter of a retired Air Force Vietnam veteran, a retired Air Force veteran herself, and the mother of a retired Army veteran. “I know first-hand the challenges veterans face when separating from the military and how difficult it is to find a job,” she said. “Those who want to start their own businesses often don’t know where to go or how to start. There are so many resources available to veterans it is easy to get lost and give up and say, ‘I’ll do it on my own.’”
Ducharme holds a bachelor’s degree in hospitality and tourism management with a concentration on event planning from University of Massachusetts, Amherst, a master’s degree in public administration from Westfield State University, and several certifications. She served as executive assistant to the vice president of development at Cooley Dickinson Hospital, where she learned about fundraising.
Ducharme works on the NEVCC nights, weekends, and holidays. She also serves as the veteran and military service coordinator at Westfield State University.