Senate lawmakers have launched an investigation into a funding shortfall at the National Veterans Business Development Corporation that's forcing a St. Louis business center to close its doors.
The investigation, led by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, was prompted by the organization's claim that it lacked sufficient funding for centers in St. Louis, Boston and Flint, Mich. As a result, the St. Louis center is slated to be shutdown in April.
The centers were created by Congress nine years ago to help veterans launch and run small businesses after a tour of duty. According to investigators, the program received $1.5 million in funding last year, of which $470,000 was distributed to the three centers. Despite receiving an additional $1.4 million earlier this year, the St. Louis and Flint centers were given only a total of $135,000.
Both Kerry and Snowe have been critical of the program's management in recent months. In a joint statement, they said the closing of the St. Louis center "underscores our deep concern that the Veterans Corporation has abandoned their mission."
Correction: An earlier version of this story mistated the funding levels for the three business centers.