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Advantage West Virginia: benefits for veterans and veteran-owned businesses

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BLUEFIELD, W.Va (WVVA) - WVVA is helping to answer questions about small business. The Executive Director of the Development Authority of Mercer County, John O'Neal, is helping answer questions.

This week we continue our new series for small business entitled "Advantage West Virginia."

O'Neal: Wednesday is Veterans Day, and we want to start out our segment by thanking all Veterans for their service to our great country. The state of West Virginia is among the highest in the nation for our portion of citizens that serve in the military. Our state has taken steps in recent years to show appreciation to those that serve.

This week we will discuss the advantages that West Virginia provides for veterans and veteran-owned businesses. First, it is very important to note the tax incentives. Starting in 2017, all military retirement income was exempted from state income tax.

This is for native-born West Virginians, and those that relocate here. Also, veterans with service related disabilities may be exempt from certain property taxes.

Secondly, there are numerous federal education benefits for veterans, but West Virginia provides many state sponsored benefits as well. Among these are the War Orphan Education Program, high school diplomas for veterans, Medal of Honor and Purple Heart Tuition Waivers, in-state tuition rates for nonresident veterans, as well as numerous economic and academic support services.

Those are benefits that apply to all veterans. Are there specific employment or business related benefits for veterans. West Virginia offers tax incentives for employers that hire veterans. There are hiring preferences for veterans in the West Virginia Civil Service System and veteran contractors.

The West Virginia legislature passed the Boots to Business waiver which waives the initial business registration fee and the annual fee for the first four years - a savings of up to $250, to assist veterans that are transitioning to civilian life and the business world.

Finally, frequent moves during a military career may lead to difficulties for spouses and their employment, particularly for those jobs that require a state license. West Virginia is among the top tier of states for recognizing licensure of military spouses from another state. Our law requires approval of licensure within 30 days.

We should be proud that there are many policies that give an Advantage for veterans in West Virginia. Viewers may get more information here and here.

Viewers can tune in each Wednesday at 5 p.m. for this new series, Advantage West Virginia.

Melinda Zosh

Evening Anchor and Producer

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