In early February, Open for Opportunity made its way to the Garden State for a groundbreaking roadshow focused on hospitality and tourism – and the essential role that franchises play to support the state’s economy. Recently named as a host of the 2026 World Cup, New Jersey is uniquely poised to benefit as a state from the myriad of opportunities provided by the franchise business model as leaders think of accommodating the influx of travelers in housing, food, and transportation – as noted in a recent Op-Ed from Wyndham General Counsel, Paul Cash. The state of New Jersey is home to almost 20,000 franchise locations that provide over 203,000 jobs to the local community. Last year, in 2022, these establishments contributed to a payroll of $7.2 billion and generated an economic output of over $19 billion. In addition, they made a significant contribution of $11.9 billion to the gross state product of New Jersey.
The stop started with a roundtable discussion at the New Jersey Restaurant & Hospitality Association featuring New Jersey Assemblymembers including Minority Leader John DiMaio and state Assembly members Kim Eulner, and Marilyn Piperno, local franchise business owners, and community and business leaders, including Marcus Banks with Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, discussing the role of franchising in the state with a focus on hospitality. Represented brands included:
- FASTSIGNS and Propelled Brands
- IHOP and Dine Brands
- Marriott International
- Wyndham Hotels and Resorts
Focus centered on the unique ability of franchising to create success for the state of New Jersey, with Banks noting, “We have to remember that franchising is one of the last gateways of the American dream. All of our franchisees exemplify that, building businesses from scratch,” emphasizing that franchises are essential to attracting and growing New Jersey’s tourism industry.
Following the roundtable discussion, the group toured Homewood Suites by Hilton in Edison, managed by Jeanne Foster and Andrew Billings. The tour provided firsthand insight into the valuable work they do in serving both their guests and the surrounding community. During the tour, Jeanne and Andrew shared how they prioritize the well-being and professional development of their staff, recognizing that a happy and skilled team is crucial to providing high-quality service to guests and contributing to the success of their franchise business. They also emphasized the importance of creating a space for local events and gatherings, showcasing their commitment to being an integral part of the community.
The group finished out day one with a tour of IFA Board Member Tom Baber’s IHOP in North Plainfield, NJ. The team saw firsthand the ample opportunities for the workforce and the community that the IHOP team provides. They met several team members, including the store’s general manager Eddie and assistant manager Danna – who went from server to assistant manager in just eight months. This restaurantis just one example of the workforce development and educational opportunities that franchises provide, invigorating the communities they inhabit and setting their team members up for career success.
The Roadshow closed in New Jersey with another roundtable discussion at the Meadowlands Chamber, including U.S. Rep. Donald Payne who made clear his commitment to fostering minority business ownership, noting that “so many minority business owners have found success through franchising, it’s a great tool for success and opportunity,” – all while drinking a Dunkin’ coffee. Discussion centered on enhancing education and collaboration between government and franchise brands, emphasizing the importance of personalizing the stories of small business owners so elected officials better understand what franchising is all about. Represented brands included:
- Dunkin’ and Inspire Brands
- Wyndham Hotels and Resorts
Panel participants ranged the full spectrum of stakeholders, from franchisor representatives, to franchisees and suppliers, to elected officials and business community leaders. The conversation emphasized the immense opportunities that public and private interests working together could create for New Jersey. ,
From discussions on the opportunities the upcoming 2026 World Cup present, to a demonstration of how a hotel can be so much more than just lodging, to sharing stories of the franchise small business impact with elected officials, New Jersey’s Roadshow really showed everyone – New Jersey is Open For Opportunity.