University of West Florida Provides Free, High-Tech Resources for Florida Veteran Entrepreneurs


Veterans Florida is proud to be the state’s leading resource for veterans starting or growing their business.

Our state is the best in the nation in supporting veteran entrepreneurs and a great example of that support is the Haas Center in Pensacola.

The Center is part of the University of West Florida and offers an incredible array of tools for entrepreneurs; ranging from site analyses to 3-D printing to market studies to economic impact modeling.

The cost of these services for veterans? Free, with a few exceptions for material and other costs.

Mariah Kill. Haas Center

Mariah Kill. Haas Center.

Mariah Kill, a statistician for the Center, said the first question many entrepreneurs have is the simplest, “Where do I go to get these resources?”

“You don’t know what you don’t know,” Kill said. “The highest hurdle in opening a business is getting started. We work to take away that initial hurdle.”

She said the free support helps our state and communities as well.

“It is more beneficial to us than it is to them,” she said. “We are able to help a business that is then going to put more investments back into the state.”

Kill attended this year’s Veterans Florida Expo on behalf of the Haas Center and quickly found opportunities with attendees, including one veteran who wanted to start a mobile medical van business.

The range of ideas the Center supports is as wide as the dreams of entrepreneurs.

Kill said the Center has helped with logistics on a start-up trucking business, provided an analysis of regulations affecting cosmetologists, reverse engineered an alternative part for boats, and helped a PhD candidate with data on the costs and impact of restoring reefs along the Florida coast.

“People hear ‘free service’ and they’re skeptical,” she said. “Then they hear what we offer and they’re gobsmacked that we deliver resources that anyone can take advantage of.”

An example of the Center support is free professional development on Tableau, the data visualization tool. These virtual lessons offered once or twice a month will provide the basics of working with this tool to help start or grow a business. A work sample can be found here.

For more information on this or any of the Haas Center resources, email and visit their website.