Celebrating Veteran-Owned Businesses During National Veterans Small Business Week

COLORADO SPRINGS — Veteran-owned businesses are being celebrated across the country as part of National Veterans Small Business Week. It is accredited by the Small Business Administration, and News5 wants to highlight local veteran-owned businesses.

Founded in 2013, Red Leg Brewing is a small business a few miles from its current location on the west side of town. Today, it sits on 2 1/2 half acres. Owner Todd Baldwin says he has a big vision and sticks to it, a trait he learned in the military.

“I wanted to be an entrepreneur and take the skills I learned in the military and apply them,” Baldwin said. “I want to control my future as much as I can, and what better way to do that than to own a brewery?”

Baldwin is a US Army veteran who served from 2006 to 2009. He took military thinking and turned it into owning a business.

“Being able to take that risk, being able to take it and stick with it, is a big part of being an entrepreneur and being able to deal with that risk,” Baldwin said. “And of course work hard, understand the long-term goals, really see the vision and work on it. Realize it.”

According to the Pikes Peak Small Business Development Center, established businesses make up 13 percent of Colorado businesses, above the 9 percent average.

Real Estate Photo Pros is another local veteran-owned business that has been in business for about 16 years.

“The idea came to me when I was deployed in Afghanistan and I was writing some notes on a yellow notepad,” said Tim Ray.

Ray is a United States Air Force veteran with 26 years in the military. He started out as a mechanic before transitioning to flying C-130s and other aircraft. Now, he pilots the Twin Otter for the Air Force Academy’s wing jump team. At the beginning of his business, he combined his passion for aviation and his wife’s passion for photography to start the business.

“I got home and gave my wife this crazy idea, hey, we should take this gas-powered radio-controlled helicopter, put a camera under it, and take aerial pictures of the property,” Ray said.

He also said that many of the skills he learned in the military helped him become a business owner.

“Initially early in my career, it was how to take orders, how to lead, how to do well. Then it became clear how to lead others if I progressed in my career,” Ray said. “All my supervisory experience came from what I learned in the military.”

These veterans continue their service by owning a business, and it’s a week to get to know them.

“Just seeing the community come and say, ‘Hey, thank you for your service.’ You know, we’ve always known that,” Ray said.

“This week really highlights veterans who go out and say ‘I want to be a small business owner’ after serving.”

For more information on real estate photo professionals, click here.

Veterans are also 45 percent more likely to own a small business than non-veterans, according to the SBA.

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