IFA rolls out stepped-up VetFran campaign

As President Obama visited the Washington Navy Yard Aug. 5 to announce new steps to help America’s veterans find jobs due to an unemployment rate more than 12 percent, the IFA is calling on members of Congress to support the reintroduction of legislation to boost small business ownership by veterans at this critical time.

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen after speaking Friday at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington about efforts to prepare veterans for the workforce. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

“As tens of thousands of service men and women return from deployment in Afghanistan and Southwest Asia, expanded opportunities are needed to ensure veterans and their families are able to transition to the civilian economy,” said IFA President & CEO Steve Caldeira in Portfolio.com, a BizJournals property.

IFA has launched a renewed campaign, backed by additional funding support from the IFA Board of Directors, to assist U.S. veterans at this unprecedented time. IFA’s VetFran campaign will help returning service members access franchise opportunities through training, financial assistance, and industry support.

 IFA recently joined with the International Military Community Executives Association (IMCEA) at an annual workshop for military foodservice and facilities leaders in San Antonio, TX. IMCEA is the only international organization that exists specifically to advance the professional development of U.S. military services managers around the world.

Following the meeting, IMCEA President Fred McKenney thanked the IFA for its support and offered praise for the IFA’s VetFran program.

“IMCEA has a fundamental mission of networking and connecting our military community to worthwhile opportunities with industry and IFA is a natural match,” said McKenney. “The strategy of recruiting our foodservice military members to pursue career opportunities in the franchise environment is brilliant. The initiative takes advantage of the military training, their ability and willingness to follow very specific standards and their experience operating in a structured operational environment. I believe we have only begun to scratch the surface on growing a relationship that will benefit our veterans and the franchise industry.  I look forward to expanding our relationship with IFA in the future and am excited about the potential rewards.”

Over 400 IFA franchisor member companies participate in VetFran, offering financial incentives, training and mentoring to prospective veteran franchise small business owners. Since the program’s inception, nearly 2,100 veterans have become franchise owners and thousands more are successful in franchising as executives, managers and staff.

At its upcoming Public Affairs Conference, Sept. 13-14 in Washington, D.C., the IFA will honor veteran franchisees and offer a unique program led by IFA VetFran Committee Chair Mary Kennedy Thompson, (USMC, Ret.), a former franchisee and President & CEO of Mr. Rooter of the Dwyer Group. IFA will host a luncheon keynote featuring Eric Greitens, former Navy SEAL and head of The Mission Continues. Greitens wrote the New York Times bestseller The Heart and The Fist, which IFA will distribute at no charge to all Public Affairs Conference attendees thanks to a sponsorship by Guidant Financial.

At the Conference, IFA will also launch a new VetFran website to help veterans find franchise opportunities and to build support for the “Help Veterans Own Franchises Act,” which will be re-introduced by Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) and Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) in September. An ad campaign featuring veteran franchisees who have taken a path to small business ownership through VetFran will be launched in Washington, D.C.-based publications such as National Journal to support the reintroduction of the legislation. 

The bill establishes a tax credit for franchise businesses that offer veterans discounted initial franchise fees, training, and other support. The tax credit would amount to 50 percent of the total franchise fee discount offered by the franchisor to the franchisee and would be capped at $25,000 per unit. The legislation also provides a tax credit to veterans who become franchisees, equal to 25 percent of the remaining franchise fee.

This week, the IFA travels to Texas A&M University, where Mary Kennedy Thompson will lead a franchising workshop at the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) for post-9/11 veterans with disabilities resulting from their service to our country. The EBV was launched at Syracuse University, and now includes Texas A&M University, UCLA Anderson School of Management, Florida State University’s College of Business, The Krannert School of Management at Purdue University, the University of Connecticut’s School of Business and the E. J. Ourso College of Business at Louisiana State University.

“Our veterans fought for us,” said Caldeira. “Now we need to fight for them. The IFA and the franchising industry are committed to this critical effort for our veterans and our nation.”

IFA has also formed a partnership with the U.S. Army Reserve to help broaden employment opportunities for reservists by including franchise ownership as a career option and funneling veteran franchise prospects toward VetFran. Further, VetFran is officially endorsed by the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs’ Center for Veterans Enterprise, which helps promote small-business ownership for veterans. 

Posted by Beth Solomon, IFA VetFran campaign coordinator