“OORAH!”- “Opening Opportunities Resources and Access for Heroes” – to help veteran-owned businesses
Senator Kathleen Marchione, Assemblymember John McDonald Assemblyman Dan Stec and veteran's advocates announce new bi- partisan legislation “OORAH!”- “Opening Opportunities Resources and Access for Heroes” – to help veteran-owned businesses.

Bi-partisan coalition urges passage OORAH! during 2014 Session to send message that Albany is putting veterans first.

In one of the first substantive, bi-partisan pro-veteran initiatives hoped to be advanced in both houses of NY State legislature during the 2014 Session, Senator Kathleen A. Marchione (R,C Halfmoon), Assemblymember John T. McDonald II (D-108th District), Assemblyman Dan Stec(R,C,I-Queensbury) and Capital Region veteran's advocates announced a bill titled "OORAH!"-"0pening Opportunities Resources and Access for Heroes"- Senate Bill S.5968 and Assembly Bill A.8230.

The bi-partisan coalition of elected official and veteran's advocates, including myself are urging passage of OORAH! for the 2014 Session. This is one of the many ways New York State can help veteran-owned businesses and demonstrate that Albany is committed to putting veterans first. Beginning in July, I scheduled a meeting with Marchione (a Senate Republican), McDonald (an Assembly Democrat), and Stec (an AssemblyRepublican), as well as actively partnered with veteran advocates in the Capital Region to draft the bipartisan legislation. Some of the many benefits and support services that OORAH! would provide for veteran-owned businesses in New York State would include the following:

• Access to economic programs and incentives, including opportunities in state
contracting, now offered to minorities a d women for their business enterprises;
• Veteran-owned Business Enterprise (VB ) certification status;
• Assistance by Division of Minority, Women and Veteran-owned Business Development;
• Inclusion as a VBE in the directory of certified minority, women, and now, veteran owned
business enterprises which is distributed to all state contracting agencies
encouraging MWVBE use;
• Access to incubator space, as well as business start-up loans, micro-loans and
revolving trust fund accounts;
• Percentage share of state contract procurement determined by the next Study of the
Minority Women and Veteran-owned Business Enterprise Program;
• Listing in the New York City-wide contracting goals enabling VBEs to be a part of
agency utilization plans and outreach activities; and
• Percentage share of New York City-wide contracts used to set agency goals
determined by the 2015 city review.

"We owe so much to our heroic veterans, as a community, state and nation. While it's a
debt that can never be fully repaid, we have a duty, a moral obligation, to let our veterans know we
have their backs in terms of services and support that can help them and their families. Our
veterans fought for us, now it's our turn to fight for them, which is why John, Dan and I partnered
together, worked with outstanding local veteran's advocates and introduced OORAH! This
legislation would ensure veteran-owned businesses have more support, resources, assistance, and a
share of state contracts, as well as micro loans and incubator space, to grow their businesses. This
is a 100 percent bi-partisan effort that, frankly, should be a model for the upcoming 2014 Session
and making state government work for the people. It is our sincere hope that OORAH! will receive
strong, bi-partisan support in both the Senate and Assembly so we can deliver a crystal clear
message that Albany is serious about putting veterans first and helping veteran-owned business
succeed and grow, especially in this tough economy," said Senator Marchione.

"OORAH! is an important step in providing opportunity to our veteran-owned businesses
that often employ other veterans. In as much as there have been attempts in the past to include
opportunities for veteran-owned businesses either in one section of the law or another, this is
by far the most comprehensive bill that has been introduced. It seeks to include Veterans in every
definition of Minority and Women-Owned businesses and at the same time calls for a disparity
study that will identify the true percentages of minority, women and veteran-owned businesses
within the state of New York. At a time when veteran unemployment is above the average
unemployment rate, this bill looks to address a concern that continues to grow as our men and
women return home from serving our country. I am pleased to join with Senator Marchione in this
effort and will work toward its passage in the New York State Assembly," said Assemblymember
John T. McDonald III. "As a veteran, I know the importance of providing our veterans with opportunities and
recognizing their service and sacrifice. I'm proud to be a sponsor of this bipartisan bill that will
allow veteran-owned businesses to access economic programs and incentives," said Assemblyman
Dan Stec.

"Saratoga County is home to nearly 17,000 veterans and we know that many of our
veterans who have served and returned home, and those who still serve and will soon be returning
home, are looking for jobs. For those who have a desire for small-business ownership or those who
may have once been an entrepreneur, the passage of OORAH! could be the defining factor in their
decision to pursue those opportunities. The passage of Senate Bill S.5968 and Assembly Bill
A.8230 bill would amend Article 15-A of the New York Executive Law, currently written for
minorities and women, by adding veterans to the law. Many small business minorities and women
have excelled because of the passage of the New York Executive Law, Article 15-A. By
supporting the addition of veterans to this Law, we will be caring for our Veterans as they have
cared for us for so many years. It has been a most rewarding experience representing the Saratoga
County Veterans committee on this task force and seeing and feeling the enthusiasm and support
of Senator Marchione, Assemblyman Dan Stec an Assemblymember John McDonald as they
sought out our input, shared in our concerns to assist our veterans and then, in a bipartisan effort,
moved forward quickly to gain the support of their respective chambers. To all who participated in
this endeavor, I say 'thank you' and for our Veterans, I say HOORAH for OORAH!," said
Supervisor Mary Ann Johnson, Chair, Saratoga County Board of Supervisors Veteran's

"OORAH is not a handout to our veterans. It is a law stating that we as a State, stand
behind you, believe in you and we will provide you the same benefits as our MWBE's for the
growth and sustainability of your business," said Amy Amoroso, Veterans Business Advisor,
Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC), Small Business Development Center.

"On behalf of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce and our Veterans Business
Council, we applaud the efforts, and leadership, of the legislative delegation who saw the
importance of including our veterans in provisions giving them the same access to economic
programs and incentives that are now offered to minorities and women. This is an important step
and we are proud to be a part of it," said Denise J.Romeo, IOM, Vice President of Member
Services, Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce.

"Veterans are proficient in achieving their mission and this bill will provide the right
resources for entrepreneurial veterans to be successful in their next endeavor," said Felipe C.
Moon, USA, MAJ (Ret), Director, Saratoga Count Veteran's Service Agency.

It has been proven time and time again, that veterans make very successful business owners. It’s
about time NYS understands this and starts making efforts to utilize and harness the talent
that is already within.

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