The International Franchise Association is holding its 14th annual Public Affairs Conference on Monday and Tuesday in Washington. The event offers franchise business leaders the opportunity to influence business policy and advocate for franchises as corporations and individuals. About 400 people are expected to attend.
Of course, not every member of the IFA or individual involved in franchises can make it to the conference. Here's the rundown of the most important takeaways that anyone interested in franchises should know, and a quick preview for the lucky IFA members attending the conference.
Taxes, health care top list of franchise concerns
The IFA surveys its membership every year to take stock of the big issues affecting franchises. In 2013, tax reform is front and center. Matthew Haller, the IFA's vice president of public affairs said that the association is committed to "advocating for a simpler and fairer tax policy." As franchisees and other small businesses are affected by both corporate and individual taxes, the IFA is advocating for Congress and the administration to lower the overall tax rate for corporations and individuals as a package, as opposed to piecemeal fixes.
Health care will be another hot topic at the conference. From the IFA's perspective, the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, has placed undue burdens on franchises and other small businesses. The IFA urges Congress to adjust the law to make it more manageable, preventing an estimated loss of 3.2 million jobs at franchise businesses.
Finally, there's the issue of immigration. Immigrants have played a key role in the franchise industry, especially in lower-skilled positions in restaurants, hotels and service-related franchises. The IFA is seeking a plan that creates more efficient pathways for unauthorized immigrants to gain legal status, as well as a system that recognizes employer needs and an effective employment verification system that safeguards employers. In July, the Senate passed a bill to overhaul immigration law in July; the IFA hopes to continue the momentum in the House.
Other policy issues include addressing recent changes in work force policy, small-business lending and supporting veterans as franchise owners.
Haller says the IFA has selected "a mix of both elected officials and thought leaders" for the conference. Monday's keynote speaker will be Jim VandeHei, co-founder and executive editor of political website and newspaper POLITICO. The IFA brochure promises his speech will offer a behind-the-scenes look at Washington politics.
Ret. U.S. Army Col. Jack Jacobs will also speak on Monday. Jacobs serves as a military analyst for MSNBC, and acted as a financial executive following his military career. The IFA is a strong supporter of vets as franchisees, with the strategic initiative VetFran encouraging over 500 IFA member companies to offer financial incentives, training and mentoring to veterans interested in small business and franchises.
Tuesday's speakers highlight politicians speaking on hot topic franchise issues. Keynote speaker Scott Brown, a former Republican senator in Massachusetts, is known for his bipartisan policies and dedication to tax reform. Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida who has made a name for himself through his commitment to immigration reform, will also be speaking.