The Atlanta Inquirer: Local Franchise Leaders, Business Community Convenes in Metro Atlanta to Host Diversity Roundtable - Open for Opportunity
March 28, 2022

March 28 – The International Franchise Association’s Open for Opportunity Roadshow stop in metro Atlanta kicked off this morning with a roundtable discussion among local community and business leaders, IFA representatives, and Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens at The Gathering Spot. The discussion focused on how diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in franchising can help break down barriers to local business ownership, while providing equitable opportunities to uplift families and make the Atlanta community and workforce stronger.

“Too often, minority communities face unequal and unfair obstacles to business ownership, like financing, leasing or purchasing property, and raising capital,” said IFA President & CEO Matt Haller. “Metro Atlanta is lucky to have leaders like the ones who gathered here today to share how they are working to even the playing field and support local entrepreneurs. Discussions like this one are what Open for Opportunity is all about – sharing the success stories of local business owners and demonstrating the power of franchising to create limitless opportunities.”

“Atlanta has one of the strongest franchising and small business communities in the country. Minority aspiring business owners face many systemic barriers to business ownership like lack of access to capital, financing, and insurance issues. This Administration has made it a priority to address these barriers and help more Atlanta residents achieve their dreams,” said Mayor Andre Dickens to those in attendance. “Thank you to the IFA for convening this roundtable in Atlanta—and thank you to all of you for coming out to discuss ways to improve access to franchise ownership for underserved communities.”

“While Atlanta can boast a strong franchising community and has a long track record of supporting small business owners, there is always more we can do to help underserved and underrepresented communities,” said Veronica Maldonado-Torres, President & CEO of the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “Discussions like today’s are critical to achieving that goal, and our organization’s mission aligns squarely with the mission of the Open for Opportunity Roadshow. Thank you to the IFA, Mayor Dickens, and all of today’s participants for showing up to support our local franchisees and small business owners.”In addition to Mayor Dickens and IFA representatives, panelists were:

Michael Baptiste, VP DEI, Atlanta Metro Chamber of Commerce
Melvin Coleman, Executive Director, Atlanta Black Chamber of Commerce
Alejandro Coss, President & CEO, Latin American Chamber of Commerce of Georgia
Tony Kimbrough, CEO, Veterans Empowerment Organization
Veronica Maldonado-Torres, President & CEO, Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Keith Millner, Chairman of the Board, 100 Black Men of Atlanta
Tim Williams, Williams Fried Chicken
Barbara Elliott, The Sisters and Company

Open for Opportunity – which officially launched at IFA’s Annual Convention in San Diego and stopped in South Florida earlier this month – focuses on sharing the stories of local franchise owners and workers from around the country to demonstrate the positive impact they have on economic growth, job creation, and the communities in which they operate. The Metro Atlanta roadshow stop includes back-of-house tours, a panel discussion and reception. Local franchise owners and IFA executives are available for interviews. In 2021, franchising employment grew at a rate of 8.9% with 24,475 new jobs created in Georgia. Georgia also added 817 new franchise businesses last year and is expected to add 682 in 2022.