ETSU ‘STRIVE’ program helps local military families get started in the business world


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – East Tennessee State University is looking for applicants for a free entrepreneurship program available to veterans and their families.

It’s a part of STRIVE (Startup Training Resources to Inspire Veteran Entrepreneurship), which is in its second year at the university.

“We have a large veteran community in our area, and in my opinion, there’s just not enough resources and assistances out there for them,” Mark Bays, Director of the Small Business Development Center at ETSU, said.

Bays said the eight-week program meets each week to discuss a different topic on business and provides participants with resources from local entrepreneurs.

“We’ve had some great success stories from that and from the businesses we see in there,” Bays said.

Stephanie Weakley, owner of Abby Maddy Designs, is one of those success stories.

“I actually design ladies accessories, we’re known for our signature key fob,” Weakley said. “It actually started as a way for me to have income and have a mobile career.”

Weakley began her business when her husband was deployed with the military and became involved with STRIVE after he retired.

“So, coming back and you’re suddenly finding yourself trying to become a part of the community, not just on a personal level but also your business, trying to integrate your business in the community,” Weakley said. “It was an amazing opportunity.”

The STRIVE program is currently accepting applications for a March start date. For more information, visit the STRIVE website.

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