It’s been about two years since the first COVID-19 cases were identified in Pennsylvania, and although there is some optimism that the omicron variant will mark the end of the pandemic as we know it, our country has a lot of work to do to get back on its feet.
But the challenges of the past two years leave room for new opportunities. To echo Gov. Tom Wolf in his 2022 budget address earlier this month, Pennsylvania has “days of opportunity” ahead.
In the Feb. 8 address, Wolf highlighted the importance of supporting Pennsylvanians in pursuing careers they’re passionate about. Wolf has supported and continues to support job training programs and small business assistance, so that his constituents can find more than a job that pays — but a job that opens up new possibilities.
As the CEO of the International Franchise Association, I know that the local franchise businesses scattered across Pennsylvania do just that. With proven business models and wide-reaching support systems, local franchise businesses provide opportunities for bright, ambitious entrepreneurs to open their own businesses with a playbook for success already in their hands.
In fact, there are more than 26,000 local franchises across Pennsylvania, and collectively they employ more than 270,000 people.
Here in Lancaster County, your franchise neighbors include the businesses you see every day, like Fastsigns on Centerville Road and CertaPro Painters of Lancaster on Reading Road.
Nationwide there are more than 730,000 franchises that support 7.6 million jobs. These local businesses — the people who own them and the workers — stepped up during the pandemic in a way few other business models allowed. Franchises are leaders in the small business community— raising wages to attract and retain workers and providing better benefits and higher wages.
Franchising also provides a path to local business ownership in communities that have been historically underrepresented. More than 25% of franchises are owned by people of color, compared to just 17% of independent businesses. And, on average, Black-owned franchises earn 2.2 times more profit than their independent counterparts.
The opportunities created by the franchise business model helps to uplift communities all across Pennsylvania. The essential workforce skills developed by franchise employees instills in them the confidence to pursue their own dreams.
It isn’t uncommon to meet a franchise hotel, restaurant or retail owner and learn they got their start as a manager, a line cook or an assistant. The substantial assistance franchises deliver to business owners, including access to capital, training, managerial assistance, and supply chain savings, reduce traditional barriers to business ownership.
It doesn’t matter whether you are from Lancaster or Erie, Philadelphia or Pittsburgh — a successful entrepreneur in franchising can be anyone from anywhere with the right support.
So as Wolf promises opportunity for Pennsylvanians, so does the International Franchise Association. We want him and the rest of Pennsylvania to hear the stories of their local franchise owners and workers. We want Pennsylvania to know that these local franchises are critical drivers of the workforce that do so much to support local communities — and we invite them to pursue their dreams and be open for opportunity in 2022.
Matt Haller is the CEO of the International Franchise Association.