GRAND RAPIDS, MI, JULY 25, 2010 – Corporal Justin Bajema knew even before he left the United States Marine Corps that he wanted to be an entrepreneur. What he didn’t have in his plans was to be ambushed while on a nighttime patrol in Iraq in 2004. After suffering severe injuries from IED shrapnel to both lower extremities, recovering from eight surgeries and undergoing months of physical therapy, Justin was left with an even greater drive to succeed.
Shortly after returning to civilian life, Justin found his passion for investment real estate. He knew his business would be centered on his passion but needed the guidance and support to bring his plan together. “I didn’t have a grand business plan,” Bajema says. “The EBV program helped me pull it all together by getting it structured with measurable goals and a road map of what I was determined to accomplish.”
After graduating from the EBV program in 2007, Bajema founded Access Property Management Group (www.accesspmgroup.com), a real estate services company providing property management and leasing services throughout West Michigan. Today his company manages assets in excess of $9.5 million, and is rapidly increasing market share.
A short three years later on July 23, 2010, Bajema rang the closing bell at NASDAQ as both an entrepreneur and a representative of the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities program (www.whitman.syr.edu/ebv/). Photos of the event and link to the video are available on the NASDAQ website at: www.nasdaq.com/marketsite/marketsite-events-detail.aspx?fn=201007-close07232010.txt
The same weekend on July 24, 2010 Bajema received the Richard L. Haydon Outstanding 2010 Entrepreneur of the Year Award. The award recognizes the accomplishments that Bajema has so far achieved in his endeavors.
The EBV program is a novel social venture that provides experiential training in entrepreneurship and small business management to veterans with disabilities. The program was first launched at the Whitman School of Management in 2007, and since its inception the EBV has expanded to five other prominent business schools across the nation, including the University of Connecticut, Florida State University, Texas A&M, UCLA and Purdue University. The EBV training is offered without any cost to post-9/11 veterans with disabilities; more than 220 veterans have graduated from the program to date.
Along with Bajema, were representatives from each of the universities offering the EBV program, and also other graduates of the program – all who are today proud business owners. The EBV Consortium participants that closed the NASDAQ at 3:45 p.m. on July 23 NASDAQ include:
- Mike Haynie, creator and director of EBV and assistant professor of entrepreneurship at the Whitman School;
- P. Christopher Earley, dean of the School of Business at the University of Connecticut;
- Elaine Mosakowski, professor of management at the School of Business at the University of Connecticut;
- Jerry Lynch, interim dean of the Krannert School of Management;
- Caryn Beck-Dudley, dean of the College of Business at Florida State;
- Randy Blass, EBV program director at the College of Business at Florida State;
- Al Osbourne, senior associate dean in the Anderson School of Management at UCLA;
- Elaine Hagan, executive director of the Harold Price Center for Entrepreneurial Studies in the Anderson School of Management at UCLA.
EBV graduates attending the closing bell were:
- Justin Bajema
- Justin Constantine
- Andrew Wyatt
- Ferris Butler
- Reggie Crane
- JR Martinez
- Mark Feffer
- Daryl Hill
- Joshua Cruce
- Peggy Laneri
- Brian Iglesias