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AgriLife Extension economist leads rural military entrepreneurship study

Study to identify business entrepreneurship opportunities for rural U.S. military veterans

A team of researchers have received a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to create guidelines to better assist rural military veteran business owners.

Dr. Craig Carpenter, a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service economist in College Station, is leading a group looking to identify business entrepreneurship opportunities for rural U.S. military veterans.

Texas A&M AgriLife

Dr. Craig Carpenter, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service economist in College Station.

“This project uses restricted-access and confidential microdata from multiple federal agencies to investigate the effect of community, business owner and business factors on the survival, growth and local economic impact of U.S. military veteran entrepreneurs, or ‘vetrepreneurs’,” Carpenter said.

The long-term goal is to spur rural economic growth by providing research-based knowledge of and support for veteran business programs, he said.

“Specifically, our detailed microdata allows for the examination of numerous factors including race, age, sex, education, previous experience, veteran status, disability status, financing source and amount, and business location, among numerous others,” he said.

Carpenter is joined by Dr. Rick Peterson, who leads AgriLife Extension’s AgriAbility Program in College Station, and Dr. Charlie Tolbert, Baylor University sociologist in Waco.

The project will culminate in the development of recommendations for vetrepreneur support programs across the U.S. based on the research and pilot implementation in Texas through AgriLife Extension, he said.

Carpenter said in this unique study AgriLife Extension will conduct an extensive examination of military veteran self-employment/non-farm proprietorship. He said examination of factors that “spur the growth and survival of these entrepreneurial efforts or that contribute to their demise has never been done before due to restrictions on access to such detailed microdata.”

“Using such data is essential to examining vetrepreneurs in relatively sparsely populated rural areas, which are often under-sampled in national surveys,” Carpenter said. “Thus, numerous questions remain unanswered for vetrepreneurs.”

For example, Carpenter said the team will attempt to answer the following questions:

§ Are there community factors that affect the growth of rural vetrepreneur self-employment?

§ What factors lead to decline or failure of these proprietorships?

§ Are there unique challenges faced by women and ethnic or racial minority groups?

§ Related to another program area priority emphasis area, what is the local economic impact in rural areas and is there an effect on income inequality or poverty? In turn, can research-based policies be developed to promote the sustainability of these establishments?

The study is guided by three project objectives:

  • Evaluate the regional economic impact of veteran entrepreneurship in terms of income, income inequality, population and poverty.
  • Incorporate findings into vetrepreneur programs in Texas as a pilot program.
  • Distribute results through academic and Extension channels for incorporation into nationwide programs.

“Using this non-public data, we will use econometric methods to develop and examine a representative panel of millions of veteran-owned businesses in the U.S.,” he said. “In turn, we will incorporate the findings into Texas veteran AgriLife Extension programs as a pilot, iterating to inform veteran programs nationwide.”

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