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World Franchise Community Meets in Washington Expo


The Annual International Franchise Expo (IFE) attracted franchisers and franchisees from 40 countries for information sharing and relationship building.

It has been called the "World Cup" of franchising. The IFE, or International Franchise Expo, is a three-day annual convention of franchise establishments from a variety of industries. Franchises are businesses granted the right to use proprietary products, processes, and trademarks -- such as those of Starbucks Coffee -- in return for license payments and adherence to a code of standards.

Matthew Shay is President of the International Franchise Association. "You have got hospitality, and retail, and restaurants, and services, and commercial cleaning, and technology, and health care, and children's care, and real estate and automotive,” Shay said. “So you cannot really call it an industry; it is really a way of doing business."

Franchised establishments like Starbucks now generate $1.5 trillion a year in total economic output in the United States, accounting for approximately 14 percent of the private sector workforce and some 10 percent of total economic output.

"Franchising creates employment opportunities for 18 million Americans in the United States. There are more than 800,000 franchised establishments in the United States," Shay said. “Franchising, while it is small business, really has a large effect on the economy.”

Models of profitable franchise opportunities provide a window into how it is done. Trade delegations from around the world also attend, often supported by the U.S. government's Foreign Commercial Service.

"The Commercial Service has recruited over 40 delegations to come to this event here today," said Deputy Assistant Secretary of Domestic Operations for the service, Colleen Litkenhaus.

She said, "We have trade specialists both domestically and abroad focusing on franchising because it is so important to the U.S. economy and American businesses."

Advocates of the franchise concept say they hope to encourage greater minority participation in the franchise way of doing business, believing that the growth of new franchise systems will empower start-up business owners, by providing them with predictable models for success.

Shay said, "It provides a platform, it provides a format for taking advantage of your entrepreneurial sort of leanings or capturing a piece of the American dream and free enterprise in a way that you might not do if you did not know where to start."

Having been given that start, Shay said, successful franchising still requires the same hard work and dedication as any other type of business.

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