From boots to business owner: Veterans realize their dreams of owning a business

FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - 11/11/2019 - Allan Griggs says being drafted into the Army in 1967 is the best thing to ever happen to him in his life.

The proud Army Veteran from Oklahoma served for two years.

When his military career ended he worked as an engineer in the oil industry.

A few years ago, his wife Diana had her eyes on a vacant house in one of Flint's most exclusive neighborhoods.

"She would drag me over here about every two weeks", he said.
He ask her what wanted to do with house.

"She didn't know. She just didn't want to see it deteriorate."

They bought the 5 thousand square foot home, with six bedrooms, three full baths, and a three car garage.

Approximately a year after purchase they rented it out to some college students. That turned out to not be the best use for the house.

"And then Diana comes up with this B and B idea," he says.

Diana remembers their marketing strategy being very simple.

"Flint could use one bed and breakfast and we said yeah lets do that," Diana Phillips said.

Michael Golwitzer, is a disabled veteran from Desert Storm, he is also the Assistant Director at Veteran Business Outreach Center or VBOC in Flint. During the early planning stages for the Bed and Breakfast he assisted the couple.

"I met with them a couple of times at the bed and breakfast , provide resources as we do with all of our veterans," he said.

The agency is a part of the Small Business Administration and helps veterans and their family members realize their dreams of own their own business.

"Well from the time they come up with a business idea and then we help them with feasibility," Golwitzer said.

The Griggs were seeking help with developing a business plan and securing a small business loan. "They can handle every aspect of it," Allan Griggs said.

Golwitzer says there are 71 thousand veteran owned businesses in Michigan. According to the SBA there are 2.5 million nationwide contributing nearly 1 trillion dollars to the U.S. economy.

"Mining to child care to senior care a number of non profits have been started that have been started by veterans," he said.

The services at the VBOC are free to veterans. The agency does not provide funding.