• Business program gives veterans a chance to network, support one another

    By: Chris Flanagan

    Updated:

    LAWRENCE, Mass. - Sal DeFranco is the co-owner of Battle Grounds Coffee Company in Lawrence.

    On the front door of his coffee shop is a small sticker that has a big meaning.

    "The idea behind this is similar to the idea behind putting a 'made in America' sticker on a product, right," the retired Navy Seal explained. 

    The sticker signifies a veteran-owned business.

    "It just breathes a sense of community within the veteran community," he added. 

    The Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce recently started a veterans-assistance program to honor those who served our country with the window decal and a wall plaque.

    "We want people to walk by and see this sticker," Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO Joe Bevilacqua said. "We want people to see the plaque. We want them to say, 'thank you.' That’s all we want -- them to see, to recognize the service veterans have given us.”

    He believes this is the only chamber of commerce in the country to honor veterans this way and says it's a unique way for them to network.

    "Veterans make great employees, they’re dedicated; they’re focused. They’ll show up for work, get the mission done, and they make great business owners," Bevilacqua said. 

    DeFranco designed the logo with a special thought appealing to veterans with a desert sand background and a large American flag.

    "I went back and looked at some of the patches when I was deployed and some of the team insignias some of my other brothers and sisters in the military wore, so I decided to go in a more militaristic color pattern," he said. 

    DeFranco and the chamber of commerce are working on expanding the veteran-assistance program.

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