Atlanta-Blimpie Subs & Salads has announced the launch of the Blimpie Urban Initiative for Leadership Development (BUILD) program in Detroit. The program is geared to those who are willing to operate a Blimpie franchise in urban empowerment zones and enterprise communities designated for urban renewal and development by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The BUILD program was developed in conjunction with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to offer franchising opportunities to qualified individuals in inner cities. This is the first initiative of its kind in franchising.

"As a company, we're extremely focused on giving back to the communities we do business with by teaching people the steps to become financially independent," said Tony Conza, founder and chief executive officer of Blimpie International. "Through the BUILD program, we hope to be the leader in helping revitalize urban communities by giving deserving entrepreneurs the opportunity to own their own business."

BUILD program franchisees are required to participate in a business development course, develop and submit a business plan for review, go through an interview process, choose between five and 10 locations for a possible restaurant and participate in Blimpie training in Atlanta. The program waives the $18,000 franchise fee and allows franchisees to be eligible to enroll in federal tax-incentive programs. In addition, the subfranchisor or area developer acts as a facilitator to the franchisee, providing aid and training after the restaurant is up and running. Participants in the BUILD program were recruited through newspaper advertisements in Detroit. The franchisees selected include Harrien and Donna Clark, Dr. and Mrs. Reginald Jewel, Nicole Sebree, and Shirley Meeks. -PRNewswire