Operation: Start Up & Grow

Veterans interested in starting a business or expanding their existing business came to OCC’s SRC Arena and Events Center March 19 for Operation: Start Up & Grow. The 8th annual business conference for the military community was presented by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

"Connections Central" brings together Veterans and business experts in a one-on-one setting.

“Connections Central” brings together Veterans and business experts in a one-on-one setting.

More than 325 people attended the free event which featured speakers, workshops and exhibitors. New this year to Operation: Start Up & Grow was “Connections Central.” It provided participants the opportunity to meet one-on-one with guest experts on a variety of topics from business planning to financing and everything in between.

Veteran entrepreneur Major General John Batiste, U.S. Army Retired was the keynote speaker. United State Air Force Reserve Colonel Barbara Carson also addressed the conference. She is the Acting Associate Administrator for the SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development.

Chris Dambach receives the Veteran-Owned Business Achievement Award. Pictured (left to right): Barbara Carson, SBA Acting Associate Administrator for Office for Veteran Business Development; Dambach; and Bernard J. Paprocki, SBA Syracuse District Director.

Chris Dambach receives the Veteran-Owned Business Achievement Award. Pictured (left to right): Barbara Carson, SBA Acting Associate Administrator for Office for Veteran Business Development; Dambach; and Bernard J. Paprocki, SBA Syracuse District Director.

Chris Dambach, a United States Marine Corps combat veteran from Syracuse, received the Veteran-Owned Business Achievement Award. Dambach is a Service-Disabled United States Marine Corp veteran who served in Iraq in 2009. He started Veteran Lawn and Landscape in 2010 with an ad in the Pennysaver and grew it into a million-dollar business.  In 2014 he started a second business, Bacon Bandit, to tap into the growing Syracuse food truck scene. Dambach has attended every Operation: Start Up & Grow conference since 2010.

Veterans interested in contacting the SBA for assistance can do so online, by phone at (315) 471-9393 or by email at jonathan.kilcourse@sba.gov.

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