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Hagan touts bill to encourage businesses to hire veterans

By Caroline McMillan Portillo
cmcmillan@charlotteobserver.com
Hagan_Veterans_01
DAVIE HINSHAW - THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER
Senator Kay Hagan talks about the 'Hire a Hero' bill at the Charlotte Chamber Wednesday morning, October 23, 2013.

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan was in Charlotte on Wednesday to tout a “Hire a Hero” bill that would make permanent a set of expiring tax credits to business owners who hire veterans.

The original measure, which passed in 2011, provides businesses a $5,600 tax credit for hiring a long-term unemployed veteran, and a $9,600 tax credit for hiring a veteran with a service-related disability.

The credit, designed to help service members return to the workforce more seamlessly, is set to expire at the end of the year.

Hagan’s bill would make the credits permanent, while also extending the benefits to businesses that hire members of the U.S. National Guard and the Reserves.

“This ‘Hire a Hero’ (bill) is just plain common sense, connecting returning heroes with jobs,” Hagan said. “They’re highly motivated and highly trusted.”

There are more than 740,000 veterans in North Carolina, according to 2012 Census estimates.

And while the national unemployment rate hovers at 7.2 percent, veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have an unemployment rate of 10.1 percent, said Hagan, a Democrat.

Also speaking Wednesday morning was David Jones, founder and CEO of Charlotte-based Peak 10, which operates data centers for other businesses. Peak 10, one of the area’s fastest-growing private companies, has more than 360 employees, more than 70 of whom are veterans.

Jones, a Vietnam veteran and former second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, praised his veteran employees for their “reliability, discipline and conscientiousness,” as well as their understanding of teamwork.

Christopher Moyer, a spokesman for Hagan, said it’s difficult to determine how many veterans were hired as a result of the existing legislation as many private companies don’t make this information public.

Portillo: 704-358-6045
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