About Us

The Veterans Business Outreach Center Region IV, representing the State of Florida, has twice been honored as the VBOC of the year, in 2014 and 2018. Under the leadership of Brenton Peacock, the staff strives to continuously meet the needs of its clients. We consider it an honor and a privilege to serve you and provide the necessary skills to start or grow your own business.

Following a 1999 law to promote veteran participation in the entrepreneurship and small business field, the Small Business Administration created and established a number of VBOCs. The Florida program, which is one of twenty-two in the country, finds that success is reflected in many start-ups throughout the State. Our clients have cumulatively received millions of dollars in contract awards, the bulk of which is through federal government contracting and loans. We help strengthen our clients’ business by providing education and resources, with the understanding that military service has set-up veterans to be fine entrepreneurs.

Consulting services are free, and we offer one-on-one communications with clients. Our consultants have been entrepreneurs, were in the military or closely related to the military, have worked in various industries, and have a wide range of education and skills to assist with almost any type of business venture.


The Veterans Business Outreach Center at Gulf Coast State College
Proudly Empowering Veteran Entrepreneurship in Florida

Our Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) serves active duty personnel, veterans, and military spouses who want to learn more about, then start and grow a small business of their own in the State of Florida. We serve the entire State of Florida, from our headquarters in Panama City at Gulf Coast State College.


We are your tax dollars at work. The VBOC is funded in part by the US Small Business Administration (SBA). We stand ready to help with FREE business counseling and assistance to Florida’s veterans and military spouses to help you.

    • Test the feasibility and potential profitability of your start-up idea or expansion of an existing business.
    • Write a solid business plan before you spend any money.
    • Take the right steps to start and successfully manage a small business in Florida.
    • Identify funding sources (banks, credit unions, non-traditional business lenders) and SBA loan programs. VBOC is not a lender nor do we represent any lenders.
    • Understand business taxes and your financial statements.
    • Develop marketing and customer acquisition strategies to grow your business.
    • Consider government contracting and take advantage of your veteran-owned small business status in procurement at all levels (federal, state and local).

Reach us at:

Phone: 1-800-542-7232
Email: Email Us

Brent Peacock

VBOC Director and Business Consultant/Analyst

Subject Matter Expertise: Business plan review; market research, business lending; marketing, advertising and promotions, instructor for Boots to Business, the DOD’s two-day Transition Assistance Program GPS for separating/retiring military members’ business start-up course.

Brent Peacock is the Director and a Business Analyst for the Veterans Business Outreach Center serving the state of Florida. Brent was awarded Regional Certified Business Analyst (CBA) of the Year in 2009 and again in 2012, then Regional Consultant of the Year in 2014.

A successful entrepreneur himself, Brent’s work experience includes 14 years in business counseling and teaching. Prior to assuming the Directorship of the VBOC in 2012, Brent was a Certified Business Analyst, with the Veterans Business Outreach Center. Prior to that, he was an instructor of Broadcasting/Communication Studies at Gulf Coast Community College as well as Morning News Anchor for WKGC FM Public Radio for over 5 years, and an employment counselor at Workforce Center for 10 years before transitioning over to the VBOC in 2008.

Brent earned a Master’s degree from American Military University in Management and Entrepreneurship, a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication/Business from Florida State University, and an Associate in Arts degree from Chipola Junior College. 

Lisa Haggerty

VBOC Business Consultant/Analyst and Procurement-Contracting Specialist

Subject Matter Expertise: Government contracting/procurement assistance, including marketing to prime and sub contractors. Her vast array of knowledge provides clients with information needed to participate and compete for government contracts, helping them to grow and sustain profitability of their small businesses.

Lisa joined the Veteran Business Outreach Center in 2022 as a contract staff member to provide her valuable expertise to clients. She brings over 20 years of industry experience with federal programs, as well as public and private sector contracting knowledge. She has served in multiple leadership roles within the National Contract Management Association, as well as other professional organizations. Lisa is founder and owner of Haggerty Strategic Solutions. She has facilitated and built successful partnerships with a multitude of clients and delivered multi-million dollar bottom-line growth. Lisa also shares her expertise as a small business owner by delivering information at Boots to Business classes. 

Lisa earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Communications and Public Relations from the University of North Florida, as well as the Project Management Professional Certification (PMP). 

Jamie Shepard

VBOC Business Consultant/Analyst and “Boots to Business” Lead Instructor

Subject Matter Expertise: Marketing and public relations; instructional materials development and presentations; business plan process and review. Jamie is a former small business owner serving as the Florida VBOC’s Lead Instructor for Boots to Business, the DOD’s two-day Transition Assistance Program GPS for separating/retiring military members’ business start-up course.

As a military spouse, Jamie Shepard has traveled and worked from coast to coast. Her multi-faceted experience offers a broad perspective of problem-solving skills from start-up to operations. A successful entrepreneur herself in advertising and marketing and later as a project manager, technical writer and trade show coordinator, she managed the Bay County Small Business Incubator and the Small Business Development Center, as well as grant programs at Gulf Coast State College. She has helped develop and lead several community service organizations.

Jamie has a Master of Science degree in Executive Management from Florida State University.

James “Jim” Paul

VBOC Business Consultant/Analyst and Banking/Loan Specialist

Subject Matter Expertise: Business banking guidance; business lending readiness, business plan review; small business operations; instructor for Boots to Business, the DOD’s two-day Transition Assistance Program GPS for separating/retiring military members’ business start-up course.

Jim Paul has been a Business Analyst for the Veterans Business Outreach Center since 2021. He has served more then three decades in the banking industry, having an intimate knowledge and understanding of small business loans, SBA requirements, USDA programs, and overall lending programs to help small business owners become ready for loan applications. Part of the pathway to loans is understanding financial projections for prospective business owners and how to understand current financial statements for those wishing to acquire a business. Jim also assists seasoned businesses with financial growth consultations. Jim also has experience in teaching business courses at the college and university level, assisting students gain practical skills and knowledge to become successful entrepreneurs. He has acquired hands-on knowledge of what it means to run a small business with experience in finance and operations. 

Jim earned a Master’s in Business Administration degree with a concentration in finance from St. Louis University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the University of Missouri-Columbia. 

Janice Benggio

VBOC Associate Director/CFO and Business Consultant/Analyst

Subject Matter Expertise: Business organization and operational procedures; business plans; business financial records; instructional materials development and presentation. She manages the organization’s financials and assists with program management. Janice served in the U.S. Army Reserve and has career experience in legal, judicial, and healthcare fields. She has operated several small businesses of her own, as well as assisting others with business start-up and consults. 

A native of Bay County, Janice spent time in Charleston, South Carolina and Fort Lauderdale, Florida before returning home to Panama City and joining the VBOC in 2019. She has worked in the State Attorney’s Office, with law firms, County and Circuit Courts, and the healthcare industry. Janice has worked at for-profit and non-profit health systems, concentrating in medical staff management, credentialing, and project management. She holds these certifications: Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE), Project Management Professional (PMP), Certified Professional Healthcare Risk Manager (CPHRM), Certified Professional Medical Staff Manager (CPMSM), and Certified Provider Credentialing Specialist (CPCS). She is a member in a number of professional organizations and also volunteers time with non-profit and community organizations.

Janice has an associate’s degree in law enforcement (Gulf Coast State College), a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration (California Coast University), and an MBA in healthcare management (Western Governors University).