GFDA ‘Boots To Business’ instructor earns national award

GREAT FALLS — Jason Nitschke, who serves as the Regional Director of the Small Business Development Center at the Great Falls Development Authority, was named 2021 Boots To Business (B2B) National Instructor of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

The B2B National Instructor of the Year is presented by the SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD). OVBD selects one winner from within the agency, along with its five SBA Resource Partner programs nationwide. Those programs include the Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC), SCORE, SBDC, Women’s Business Centers (WBC), and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF).

Nitschke will represent the SBDC programs throughout the United States.

Nitschke said, “It’s certainly an honor to be recognized at a local level, or state level. Certainly, at a national level, being one of six people across the world. Receiving an award like this, being recognized by the SBA as the agency is really nice, but I don’t come to work every day, in pursuit of recognition, I come to work every day to impact the quality of lives for entrepreneurs and their employees, and to make the Great Falls regional economy a better place for people to be including my daughter.”

The SBDC program funds nearly 1,000 centers and 5,000 business advisors throughout the country providing business technical assistance and educational opportunities to entrepreneurs.

Boots To Business is an entrepreneurial education and training program offered by providing participants with an overview of business ownership. It is open to active duty service members, veterans, and military families of all branches.

Boot To Business training at the GFDA

Boot To Business training at the GFDA

Tachie Navarro, who served in the Air National Guard, said, “It’s definitely worth while. It’s good to get a framework and a direction to go if you have an idea, and it gives you the resources you need to grow that idea.”

Kevin Beagle was in the military for 20 years and currently runs a successful business. He also serves as the training manager for Big Sky Economic Development. He stated, “”My primary focus was always, you know, army and military, but during the transition period, the Boots to Business Program always opens your mind to different types of businesses that are out there, how to start businesses, connections that you need to make, the networks you need to make, and some base education that provide me and other transitioning service members kind of a good foundation before we launched into our second career or second chapter in the civilian world.”

Nitschke joined the SBDC hosted by the Great Falls Development Authority in October 2014 and taught his first B2B in November of that year. Since that time, he has delivered more than 30 B2B trainings with 450 attendees and individually counseled nearly 200 potential veteran entrepreneurs and their spouses. Under his direction, the Great Falls SBDC has been named the Best Managed Center (2014) and Top Performing Center (2016). Nitschke received the SBA’s Veterans Service Award in 2017 and the America’s SBDC State Star Award for Montana in 2018.

Nitschke was nominated by Tom White, Lender Relations Specialist with the SBA’s Montana District Office in Helena, and Dustin Frost, Director of the Region VIII VBOC in Billings.

Frost serves as the Director for Region 8 Veterans Business Outreach Center and spoke on Jason’s accomplishment. He stated, “In my view, it’s his commitment to those transitioning service members in Great Falls. I would say his commitment, his follow through after the class. He really cares for these veterans who are going to start businesses, and the results in Great Falls, Montana that have happened because of that connection with Jason, there are just many former airman at Malmstrom Air Force base who have started businesses in Great Falls because Jason was a part of that class.”

As the SBDC Regional Director serving from Cut Bank to Lewistown, Jason provides one-on-one counseling and training for entrepreneurs and small business owners in his seven-county region.

Click here to visit the GFDA website.


Christin Hakim

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