It’s common to attend annual meetings. It’s uncommon to hear the very reason for being there is facing “significant threats.” Such was the case at this year’s International Franchise Association (IFA) Annual Convention. Thousands gathered in San Antonio to discuss best practices, hear noteworthy speakers and learn more about the “headwinds” to success “due to government intrusion in the franchising business model.”

As an Agency representative and PR professional, remaining apolitical in content is important to me. But, this is a conversation that can actually be positive for all of us. Stone Ward works with several noteworthy franchises, and we fully appreciate the benefits of this business model. Franchising is a business like no other – no previous entrepreneurial skills or experience are necessary to own your own business, provide jobs and contribute to the local economy and communities. The new Chairman of the IFA, Aziz Hashim, said it best, “Franchising is the quintessential American invention, taking something that works, making it efficient, adding technology and scaling it.”

Franchises employ more than nine million people in the US through almost 800,000 business units accounting for $944B in output. Most importantly, franchisees are folks like you and me. They’re people who want to create opportunity for themselves, their families and others. The business in which they’ve invested may have a nationally recognized name, but, most often, it’s a local person who owns it and hires local individuals to staff it.

Did you know President Obama and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan started their careers at franchises? It was their first step to employment and future opportunities. What’s threatening the model is the work they’re in today…government. In some cities, elected leaders are attempting to group locally owned franchise businesses in with their brand companies, which would require these small franchise businesses to pay higher wages than other small businesses. Doing so stands to crush the entrepreneurial spirit of many of those willing to take the bold step into business ownership.

Suffice it to say, no additional regulation will “create” opportunity. Franchising HAS created opportunities for generations and can continue to do so. At Stone Ward, we applaud those who are leaning into the headwinds facing franchising, and we plan to lean in alongside them.