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Ben Davis, co-owner of the Marion Chocolate Shop in Uptown Marion, was recognized with the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Impact Award at a ceremony at Mr. Davis’ store Nov. 9. The award celebrates a veteran-owned business for its contributions to the Iowa economy in honor of National Veterans Small Business Week (NVSBW). Mr. Davis is a retired engineer officer who served in the Iowa Army National Guard with two combat deployments. He and his wife Katy purchased the Marion Chocolate Shop in 2021, after 40 years of operation. The two have expanded the shop’s product line and are in the process of expanding its manufacturing operation with a second building in Marion. National Veterans Small Business Week raises awareness of small businesses owned by veterans, National Guard, reservists and military spouses, and connects the military community to critical business resources offered by the SBA, its resource partner network, and other economic development partners to support small business start-ups and expansions. “When we get around Veterans Day or National Veterans Small Business Week, we always focus on thanking them for their service,” said Jayne Armstrong, district director of the Iowa SBA Office, during the award ceremony. “But it's twofold, because now their service is to the community and to our local economy, and all across the country, with the two million veteran-owned businesses and the impact that they are having on the nation's economy.” “I’m a Marion transplant, so being part of this community has been incredible,” Mr. Davis added. “This award is really for all of you. We're all part of this small business community. I'm just glad to be a representative veteran.” “The Chocolate Shop has been a big part of Marion for a while, but you're taking it to a whole new level, and we're so pleased with how you've jumped into the business community,” Marion Mayor Nick AbouAssaly said. “You're so active as a positive promoter of Uptown and of Marion as a whole, and we're just very proud of you. You've not only contributed through your service, but now you're contributing in a different way to the community.” The event also highlighted the recent launch of the new SBA-supported Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC), hosted by the Nebraska Enterprise Fund in Omaha, that serves the veterans business community in Iowa and Nebraska. Others attending the SBA award ceremony for Ben Davis included VBOC director Ty Williams, Marion Mayor NIck AbouAssaly and representatives of various local, state and national elected officials. According to the SBA, there are nearly two million veteran-owned small businesses in the United States, employing approximately five million workers.