As a result of the economic downturn, more light was shined on the role that small business owners, including those investing in a franchise opportunity, play in stimulating a financial recovery. Both experts and government officials have called this sector the engine of the U.S. economy, and the International Franchise Association seems quick to agree.

In a new advertising campaign, the IFA points out the key role the franchising industry is playing in the current economic recovery. In fact, according to data prepared by the IFA Educational Foundation more than 800,000 franchises contribute nearly 18 million jobs and generate $2.1 billion in revenue.

"Franchise businesses play a powerful role in creating jobs across the country," IFA CEO Stephen Caldera said in a statement. "We urge members of the 112th Congress to consider the impact of public policies on the ability of small franchise businesses to grow and help move the economy from a jobless recovery to a job-creating economy."

Furthermore, the initiative hopes to catch the attention of lawmakers in Washington, D.C., and push for pro-growth policies that will benefit both franchisees and franchisors to grow at a quicker pace.

Print ads will feature the headline "Franchising: The Wake-Up Call for Local Growth," and will appear in publications such as National Journal, Politico, Roll Call and CQ Today. In addition to the advertising campaign, the IFA will be able to offer lawmakers a tool that allows them to measure the economic impact of franchises by congressional district.

"Franchise businesses are poised for slightly stronger growth in 2011, but tight credit and uncertainty about healthcare costs and other government regulations are curtailing plans by small business owners to open more units and add jobs the industry normally creates during economic downturns," Caldeira said.

"The IFA awareness campaign is an important component of our ongoing efforts to demonstrate how onerous laws and regulations impact the franchise industry and small business community," he added.

Regardless of the specific industry they operate in, the majority of franchisees are set to benefit from the attempts by the IFA to raise awareness, particularly among lawmakers, about the economic benefits of franchising. Just consider that according to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 10 percent of America's employers are franchised businesses, Blue MauMau writes. This means that means that 453,326 businesses and their accompanying employees would see the results.

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