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Opportunities available for veterans looking to start own business

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Operation Warrior Entrepreneur seeks to provide assistance to veterans looking to start their own business in the Pikes Peak region.

Founded by Nicholas Gray, a former sergeant of the Army and Iraq combat veteran, Gray said he believes OWE will allow veterans to accomplish a lifelong goal.

“We at NG Enterprises and our partnering businesses are very excited to be able to provide this great opportunity for veterans to realize their dreams of owning a franchise,” Gray said in a press release.

“We are calling it Operation Warrior Entrepreneur (OWE) as we do owe it to our military heroes to help them start their own business after all the contributions and sacrifices they have made on our behalf.”

NG Enterprises, the company behind OWE, where Gray functions as president and CEO, held its first fundraiser on Oct. 15 in Colorado Springs at Sky Sox Stadium, and reached its goal of raising $50,000 in cash, prizes and services, Gray said.

The prize package will be awarded next spring and veterans who are interested can apply for it on OWE’s Web site.

Winners will be awarded a cash prize and business services from OWE’s participating sponsors and will range from financing, marketing, accounting, computers and technology, and insurance, to retail credit cards and business coaching, Gray said.

Many organizations have stepped up to assist with OWE, Gray said, and include: Strategic Financial Partners, Seiko Marketing, Vectra Bank, Jeff Burum CPA MBA LLC, Nor’Wood, Elk Creek Computers & Technology, All About Merchants, as well as several others.

These businesses have agreed to provide services for a minimum of 90 days and will help accommodate the winners with the necessities to get its franchises off the ground, Gray said.

The award ceremony for the contest is expected to be scheduled between March and April 2010, he said, and will also feature a live national music performer, door prizes, key note speakers and information tables of over 20 veteran organizations.

After serving for nearly four years in the Army, Gray said he believed the opportunity to start your own business seemed almost non-existent.

“When I left the military in November of ‘07 after having served in the Army in Iraq and Korea, I was troubled with the little help that was offered to the exiting military members into entrepreneurship,” Gray said. “Everything was about getting a job. I knew I couldn’t be the only one seeking self employment.”

Gray said the move to Colorado Springs seemed to be the opportunity he had been looking for.

“I began to seek others who could provide me with assistance in starting my own company,” Gray said. “I felt that Colorado Springs would allow me to accomplish my goals, while being able to live in a community that would support those same goals.”

Gray founded NG Enterprises in February 2009 and now provides four divisions of services to veterans and non-veterans alike, with OWE being a small piece of the assistance, he said.

The four divisions include: the veterans division, finance division, lending division and franchise brokerage division.

The veterans division holds the sector of Veterans 2 Business, an organization also founded by Gray, and includes OWE.

Veterans 2 Business is a part of VET-FRAN, a program that provides veterans with discounts when starting into the franchise ownership business, Gray said.

“Veterans 2 Business has working relationships with over 300 franchises in more than 30 industries,” the NG Enterprises’ Web site states.

The finance division seeks to provide a variety of services to “fiscally responsible individuals” by reducing debts or mortgage payments, while the franchise brokerage division pairs the entrepreneur seeking to start a business with the business or franchise that appears right for them, Gray said.

Funding solutions to get the business of the ground come from the lending division by organizing and assisting with 401k resources, IRA, and other accounts, to ensure funding is available for the upcoming business venture, the Web site states.

Those interested can contact Nicholas Gray at 719-433-7755 for more information.