A Veteran Business Owners Afterhours Networking event is set for Thursday.

The Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce’s Veterans Committee is sponsoring the quarterly event, which will be hosted by former Marine Sgt. Lloyd Nichols at The Diner, 7924 S. Broadway Ave. It will be held from 5 to 7 p.m.

The Chamber’s Veterans Committee, co-chaired by Jim Snow and Gretchen Martens, seeks out and keeps track of veteran-owned businesses and promotes the value of veterans as owners, workforce and consumers to the community. A major goal for the year has been to reach out to the veteran business owners to develop, expand and strengthen the network, spokeswoman Lynne Spivey said in an email. The quarterly afterhours networking event is part of that effort.

Snow said the first afterhours gathering was held in March and had very little turnout. They are trying to get the word out to grow what they hope will become a quarterly event, he added.

Snow said they are trying to bring together veteran-owned businesses and other businesses interested in supporting veterans.

Dr. Lila Valencia, researcher and legislative liaison for the Office of the Texas Demographer, recently conducted a veteran economic impact study of the area.

According to information from the 2007 U.S. Census, Dr. Valencia said out of 21,265 businesses in Smith County, 1,929 were veteran owned and 1,696 were owned equally by veterans and non veterans. She said more recent data, from the 2012 Census survey of business owners, should be released soon.

Karla Anders, of the Tyler Economic Development Council, will give a special presentation on Revolving Loan Funds at the afterhours networking event. The loans are provided by the Economic Development Council to firms that create or retain permanent jobs in Smith County, Snow said.

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