Attorney Edward Lovato signs into the first networking event of the Veterans Business Support Coalition at 1933 Brewing Company on Wednesday night. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 13 years. Photo by Amy Byres.

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Veterans are receiving reinforcements in the front lines of business development, thanks to a new Rio Rancho Regional Chamber of Commerce group.

The Veterans Business Support Coalition from RRRCC provides resources to help established veteran-owned businesses grow and new veteran-owned businesses start.

“A lot of times (veterans) are going to need help, maybe not so much with business, but just be a resource for them. Whether it be mental health or be business help, we offer anything and everything to help veterans,” said RRRCC Member Consultant Jaime Gallardo.

This coalition had its first networking event at 1933 Brewing Company on Wednesday.

VBSC is committed to advocating on behalf of veterans in Rio Rancho, Sandoval County and surrounding areas, according to a brochure.

Services include:

• Coaching in entrepreneurship and providing assistance regarding veteran benefits, grants, student-veteran support and mental health resources.

• Advise in developing strategies for business growth and providing advocacy in economic business development, national security and foreign affairs, women veterans, grassroots efforts, veterans affairs health care watch, military and spouse economic empowerment zones.

• Organizing community outreach through media, events and community services like youth and education, troop support and community fundraising initiatives.

The creation of the coalition began in October 2019. Vanguard Radio Center, Triskelion Group of New Mexico, 1933 Brewery Company and New York Life insurance agent Donald Hunter are veteran-owned companies in or near Rio Rancho.

“We had a number of meetings with this group and they ended up playing a huge part in helping us, the chamber, get this coalition off the ground,” Gallardo said.

“(We were) just trying to get the feelers up and seeing who would be interested and who would want to participate.”

The chamber partnered with the Veterans Business Outreach Center and the New Mexico Small Business Development Center during VBSC’s creation.

Gallardo said this partnership led to the idea of raising money toward grants for veterans.

“Let’s say you have a veteran that has taken advantage of VBOC and SBDC, and wants to open up his own business, but when opening a business, there are all these ancillary costs involved,” he said.

To raise funds for the grants, Vanguard Radio Center provided the coalition with some air time on four stations every Sunday morning:

• 95.9-FM and 103.7-FM, The Oasis stations;

• Sunny 101.3-FM; and

• Z 106.3-FM.

“They are providing us some air time for a radio show to have folks — business owners, partners and corporations that have veteran outreach programs — to come and do an interview and sponsor and donate money to this cause,” he said.

Through the VBSC, Gallardo wants to connect veterans in the area, he said.

“I am excited to see where this goes; it is a great opportunity for the chamber and for business to grow because Rio Rancho and Sandoval County is a very patriotic place,” Gallardo said.

For more information on the VBSC, call 892-1533 or visit RRRCC.org.