PENSACOLA — The Florida Small Business Development Center Network, in partnership with Veterans Florida, has welcomed the first class of participants in the Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program.

The statewide initiative offers qualified veterans the opportunity to receive an accelerated entrepreneurship education at no cost.

The pilot program, which began the first of three phases March 15, received over 600 applications and accepted 400 participants.

It’s delivered through five participating institutions of higher education to military veterans who have been honorably discharged, are National Guardsmen or Reservists, or are active duty within one year of separation; reside in Florida; and demonstrate a strong interest in entrepreneurship.

Due to the State of Florida’s funding support, the program is available to participating veterans at no cost.

In December, Veterans Florida, a non-profit created by the Florida Legislature to attract and retain veterans, selected University of West Florida, through its Florida SBDC Network and Military Veterans Resource Center, to administer the program.

See www.FloridaVetBiz.org for more information on the program.