Casey leads effort on franchises for veterans

By:  Karen Shuey

The franchise industry has seen military veterans as fit for duty as leaders. This week, to mark Memorial Day, Sen. Bob Casey is stepping up efforts to get more soldiers into the business.

The Democrat is leading a bipartisan coalition of U.S. senators, including Florida Republican Marco Rubio, that would create a tax credit for veterans or their spouses who purchase a franchise.

"This policy will help our brave men and women in uniform as they make the transition from a soldier to a veteran who has to support their family," the senator said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday afternoon.

Despite the training and experience, many veterans are struggling to find employment after they return home.

In Lancaster County, the veteran unemployment rate is 9.7 percent, a full 2 percentage points higher than the national rate for all workers. According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 32,787 veterans living in the county.

The Help Veterans Own Franchises Act will provide a tax credit to veterans who choose to purchase a franchise and open a business in their local community. The credit will be equal to 25 percent of the franchise fee, up to $100,000.

Casey said franchises offer a great opportunity to veterans.

A recent study by the International Franchise Association found that one out of every seven franchise businesses is owned and operated by a veteran. That translates to more than 66,000 businesses providing 815,000 jobs.

"Whether it's education or health care or economic opportunities — all of these efforts are important because of the huge commitment we made in Iraq and Afghanistan," he said.

Casey said that as troops continue to return home existing strategies will be tested. That means leaders in government and business need to be "constantly thinking about more and different ways to provide economic opportunities to veterans."