Shop Veteran Owned Businesses First - A Message from the Director

Shop Veteran Owned Businesses First -
Lourdes E. Alvarado-Ramos, Director of the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs

Small businesses are the backbone of the state economy – about 99% of state businesses are small. Washington small businesses employ 1.3 million workers, which is about 51% of Washington’s total workforce. Many of these businesses are veteran-, women-, and minority-owned. Ensuring these diverse businesses have contracting opportunities gives Washington state government access to a wider array of business solutions, helps drive innovation and strengthens our economic growth. Successful small businesses led by veterans, minorities, and women help make our economy and our families more resilient – strengthening our communities and improving the quality of life for all Washingtonians. 

Governor Inslee has directed agencies to do a certain amount of purchasing with diverse businesses, and established a Business Diversity Subcabinet, which I’m proud to be a member of.  We have set out to help agencies not only understand why doing business with diverse businesses is important, but also provide them with tools that will help facilitate real change. Part of this work includes improving data to better measure everything we purchase, whether through a contract or using a purchasing card.

In addition, a Disparity study will be complete soon and that will provide information about how state government is doing when it comes to access for veteran-, minority-, and women-owned businesses in contracts and purchasing, as well as recommending strategies for ensuring diverse firms can participate.  Find out more about the Disparity Study here

Whether you are a private citizen, or operate a business or non-profit organization, chances are you make purchases from other businesses!  You can find a list of Washington State Certified Veteran Owned Businesses on the WDVA website at  Visit to find the Veteran Owned Businesses in your community and choose to shop veteran first!

If you know of a Veteran Owned Business that isn’t certified, please let us know who they are so we can reach out to them directly.  Veteran or Servicemember Owned Business Certification is quick, free, and the process is relatively easy to complete. 


·         Honorably discharged or currently serving

·         51% ownership (50/50 may be eligible if community property or veteran split)

·         Domestic Washington State Business

If you are a veteran who owns the a Washington business you can sign up your business in Washington as Veteran Owned at and mark the veteran owned checkbox to begin the process. State agencies, local municipalities, and prime contractors are all looking for certified veteran owned businesses to contract with and purchase from to meet their diversity spend goals. In addition, certification makes a business eligible to apply for the Veterans Linked Deposit Program which can improve access to capital for certified Veteran and Servicemember Owned Business enterprises by decreasing interest rates on small business loans by 2%!

For more information please contact:

Jennifer Montgomery
Veteran Owned Business Program Manager
Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs or 360-725-2169