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Franchise Industry Convention to Address Veteran Unemployment Challenge

For immediate release
Alisa Harrison, 202-628-8000
Matthew Haller, 202-662-0770


WASHINGTON, Feb. 6, 2012-With nationwide veteran unemployment rates climbing as high as 30 percent, the International Franchise Association will host U.S. veterans at its 52nd Annual 2012 IFA Convention in Orlando free of charge as part of "Operation Enduring Opportunity," the franchise industry's campaign to hire as team members and recruit as franchise business owners 75,000 veterans and military spouses and 5,000 wounded warriors by 2014.   


U.S. Veterans Affairs Chief of Staff John Gingrich will address Tuesday's Super Session on veterans transition efforts. Gingrich works closely with VA Sec. Eric Shinseki in leading the federal government's second-largest Cabinet department, with some 286,000 employees in VA medical centers, clinics, benefits offices and national cemeteries throughout the country. The VA and IFA have a longstanding partnership through the VetFran program.

At the 2012 IFA Convention, U.S. veterans and military spouses will be invited to visit the first-ever IFA VetFran Pavilion offering Tools & Solutions to match veterans with franchise opportunities. The Value of a Veteran,, GI Jobs, Florida Department of Veterans Affairs, The UPS Store, and CiCi's Pizza Patriot Program will be founding exhibitors in the Pavilion, sponsored by The Dwyer Group, and Guidant Financial.

Highlights of the VetFran Pavilion:

  • The Hero2Hired Mobile Job Store Truck: A project of the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program - will be in the Pavilion where franchisors can get free, direct access to qualified veteran candidates who already have background checks and security clearances and find out about veteran hiring tax credits of up to $9,600 per veteran hired.
  • Crowdfunding: A new crowdfunding platform will launch at the IFA Convention to fund veterans as franchise business owners.
  • CiCi's Pizza Patriot Program: Offers all honorably discharged veterans a waiver of the franchise fee for the first store and 50 percent reduction of its royalty fee for the first full year in operation. Veterans enrolled in CiCi's Patriot Program will be required to hire an honorably discharged veteran manager within the restaurant in an effort to create more jobs for the veteran community. Additionally, CiCi's Pizza will support the veteran franchisee to obtain his or her Certified Franchise Executive (CFE) designation. 
  • Guidant Financial: Has committed to helping 500 veterans access financing to start businesses.
  • The Dwyer Group: Founding sponsor and which has committed 200 veterans as new franchise business owners.
  • The UPS Store: In support of "Operation Enduring Opportunity," Mail Boxes Etc., Inc. (MBE) will waive the franchise fee of $29,950 for up to 10 qualified veterans who are first-time franchisees wishing to open a new location. In addition, qualifying veterans and spouses of active duty military receive $10,000 off the franchise fee of a new The UPS Store location and 50% off the initial application fee (applied toward the total franchise fee).
  • Valpak: Will be launching a new veterans development incentive program.
  • The Value of a Veteran: Training for human resources professionals on how to recruit military veterans.
  • The veteran/franchisor ownership matchmaker.
  • GIJobs: Providing employment opportunities, education, transition assistance, and job opportunities for military transitioners.  

Veterans will have a chance to meet with franchisor and supplier exhibitors on Sunday, Feb. 12 starting at 4:00 pm and at the VetFran and Lender Reception starting at 7:00 pm, as well as a General Session on the IFA's Operation Enduring Opportunity Tuesday, Feb. 14 from 8:00 to 10:00 am.  


The "Panel of the Pros" general session of the Convention Feb. 14 will feature franchise business leaders including Mary Kennedy Thompson (USMC, Ret.), President of Mr. Rooter and VetFran Committee Chair, Greg Tanner, VP of Franchising, Aaron's, Stuart Mathis, President of The UPS Store®, as well as SSG Shilo Harris (U.S. Army, Ret.), a wounded warrior. The panel will be moderated by IFA Second Vice Chair Steve Romaniello, Managing Director of Roark Capital Group.   


On February 10th, in advance of the IFA's 52nd Annual Convention in Orlando, IFA members representing hundreds of franchise brands will take part in a one-day event to complete a rehabilitation of a park honoring military veterans at the Orlando Health and Rehabilitation Center, one of Florida's largest nursing facilities and home to over 50 veterans and 300 seniors and children.  


Other VetFran sponsors at the Convention include: BoeFly, Ecolab, Jani-King, MFV Expositions, FranchiseSource, FranchiseSource International, Luce, Smith & Scott, Granite Transformations, Team Logic IT, Aaron's, TD Bank, Susquehanna Bank, the National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders, U.S. Bank, Dunkin' Brands, and the Arby's Foundation.

Veterans have a proven track record of success in franchising. According to a recent study based on U.S. Census data, there are more than 66,000 veteran-owned franchise establishments in the United States, providing jobs directly for 815,000 Americans. Over 2,100 veterans have become franchise business owners through the IFA's VetFran program, originally established in 1991, and subsequently revamped after 9/11. Responding now to veteran unemployment rates of 11.7 percent (30 percent for veterans under 20-24 years old), IFA launched Operation Enduring Opportunity in November to offer returning veterans career paths in franchising including employment and ownership on a broader scale.

VetFran, a strategic initiative of the IFA, was developed from an idea of the late Don Dwyer Sr., founder of the Dwyer Group, who understood that the skills and operational excellence learned through military service translated into owning and running successful franchise businesses.


For more information about the IFA Convention Feb. 11-14 in Orlando, click here. Veterans and military spouses can register here.  


About the International Franchise Association
The International Franchise Association is the world's oldest and largest organization representing franchising worldwide. Celebrating over 50 years of excellence, education and advocacy, IFA works through its government relations and public policy, media relations and educational programs to protect, enhance and promote franchising. Through its media awareness campaign highlighting the theme, Franchising: Building Local Businesses, One Opportunity at a Time, IFA promotes the economic impact of the more than 825,000 franchise establishments, which support nearly 18 million jobs and $2.1 trillion of economic output for the U.S. economy. IFA members include franchise companies in over 300 different business format categories, individual franchisees and companies that support the industry in marketing, law and business development.