Local Business Owner John Blanchard Named 2008 Business Champion and was Specially Recognized by The Mchenry County Economic Development Corporation

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John C. Blanchard, founder and Executive Director of NASA Education Corporation receives award.

to rejoin the mainstream of America

The McHenry County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC) presented the 2008 Business Champion award to John C. Blanchard, owner and CEO of The National Association of System Administrators, Inc (NASA, Inc.) a leading provider of hardware maintenance, founded in 1994; National Association of System Administrators Corporation (NASA Corp.), a software development company founded in 1997 and National Association of System Administrators Education Corporation, (NASA Ed Corp), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, based in Crystal Lake, who's main program Project Fresh Start, a community reintegration program for U.S. veterans who are displaced, disabled, homeless or otherwise in transition and the Semi-Annual Stand Down for Veterans.

Though many local professionals and organizations were nominated, five individuals including Mr. Blanchard were selected as the 2008 Business Champion and were recognized at the annual MCEDC dinner on Thursday, March 6, 2008. Mr. Blanchard was given special recognition for his commitment to McHenry County, his employees and our nation's heroes who served in the greatest military in the world.

When asked how he shared in the vision of the ever growing McHenry County community, he stated, "On the surface it might not be as clear as to how much of an effect that Project Fresh Start has on McHenry County and it's communities, but as you learn more about our whole program and its outcome, you then begin to realize that we continue to develop and educate a dedicated, loyal workforce for the businesses in McHenry County. These individuals must have, as our motto states, the "Help and Healing to renew their Hope" to rejoin the mainstream of America".

John Blanchard a McHenry County native who proudly served for eight years in the U.S. Navy and is active in veterans'affairs, founded NASA Education in 1998. who's latest program is Project Fresh Start, which prepares displaced, disabled, homeless and other veterans in transition for competitive wage jobs and community reintegration. During their participation in the NASA Education program, we provide them with housing in the apartment buildings that we acquired in 2007, transportation, training in hard skills and soft life skills, counseling, case management services, substance abuse counseling and therapy in individual and group meetings, and any other service necessary, therefore letting their focus be 100% towards their goal of workforce and community reintegration.

Participants are being given a chance to return back to the whole, productive person they once were. NASA Ed Corp hosts a semi-annual Stand Downs for Veterans that is held in the spring and fall. The next Stand Down will occur March 31st through April 1st at the YMCA Camp Algonquin, 1889 Cary Road, Algonquin, IL 60102. Another NASA Education initiative includes the P.R.I.S.M. Center of Crystal Lake, the division which will house our case workers, social workers, and a commercial enterprise that will provide funds for NASA Education's programs, a DUI school and treatment center. P.R.I.S.M. stands for Principle Resource In Substance Abuse Management.

The P.R.I.S.M. Center of Crystal Lake will be opening its doors late spring. The Illinois Secretary of State's office accepted NASA Education's application to have a solicitation for vehicle donations inserted into the Secretary of State's mailings of new titles to Illinois drivers, which resulted in a substantial increase in vehicle donations. We expanded our Auto Mechanics Training Center so the veterans following that career path under the supervision of a full-time, certified auto mechanics trainer can quickly and efficiently repair donated vehicles.

Unlike some nonprofits, we never sell these donated cars to third parties in order to provide unrestricted funds for our organization. The vehicles are issued to veterans upon completion of their education plans so they will have transportation to their new jobs. We have developed Avant-Garde as a kind of SBA organization which creates and initially funds the service disabled veteran-owned businesses.

Avant-Garde takes care of all requirements for setting up a business such as licensing and permits; all state and Federal filing requirements; payroll, unemployment, local and Federal tax issues; all employee and withholdings issues; and the education of the disabled veteran in investment opportunities. We also negotiate all Federal contract terms and agreements, and perform all invoicing and accounting tasks. Avant-Garde basically educates these individuals on how to be business owners.

Typically these individuals have had plenty of technical experience, but may not know how to manage and operate an actual business. Avant-Garde has created three service disabled veteran-owned businesses since July of 2007. These are Anchor Solutions Corporation, Liberating Solutions, Inc. and Vet-Teks, Inc. Anchor Solutions Corporation specializes in call centers, customer service centers, help desk and dispatching services. Liberating Solutions, Inc. specializes in landscaping and grounds keeping, building maintenance, property management, light construction and demolition. The main focus of Vet-Teks, Inc. is transportation: livery, medical transport and over-the-road trucking. One of Vet-Tek's recent successes is that they currently facilitate a CDL school and trucking company.

The trucking division is projected of having 50 trucks producing over the road deliveries by the end of 2008. All of the service disabled veteran-owned businesses are successful bidders and benefactors of Federal contracts. Existing contracts are from Federal agencies such as The Bureau of Land Management; U.S. Department of Agriculture; U.S. Department of Defense; U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force; U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs; and the U.S. Department of Treasury.

Avant-Garde's gross annual contracts total $1,957,500.00 to date, which is really impressive for a little more than six months of activity. However, as you can probably imagine, these new business owners quickly learn the cost of doing business when Avant-Garde instructs them in the general business ownership fundamentals, such as payroll, taxes, insurance and accounts payable. In keeping with the tradition of NASA Education Corporation and John Blanchard, these business owners are not forgetful of their past. They have their fellow veterans' needs at heart, and they have become significant contributors to NASA Education, Avant-Garde and the growth of this organization.

NASA Education is supported by donations from Blanchard's two for-profit businesses, NASA Inc. and NASA Corporation, as well as donations of cash, equipment and automobiles from clients and others who wish to help NASA Education in its work.

For more information about the NASA companies please visit http://www.nasaeducation.org or contact Amy Johnson, at (815) 455-5190.

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