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Public and Intergovernmental Affairs

700th Veteran To Open Franchised-Small Business via Special Program


(From left; Matthew Shay IFA President; U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson; Michael Isakson, IFA Chairman; Alan Martinez accompanied with his wife and business partner Kim Martinez; Rick Ivey, founder of the Virginia Barbeque franchise; and Tom Portesy, President of MFV Expositions.)

WASHINGTON, D.C. March 30 – U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson today recognized former Marine Alan Martinez, who recently purchased a Virginia Barbeque franchise, as the 700th U.S. military veteran to acquire a franchised-small business using financial incentives offered by the International Franchise Association’s “VetFran” program.

The announcement was made during the opening ceremony of the 16th annual International Franchise Expo at the Washington, D.C. Convention Center. “Our expansion of this government-business agreement gives an extra boost to those who have devoted part of their lives to their country and want to enter, or reenter, the economic mainstream,” said Secretary Nicholson. “It furthers VA’s mission to help with that transition by encouraging business ownership.”

VetFran, formally titled the Veterans Transition Franchise Initiative, is a voluntary effort undertaken by nearly 250 IFA-member companies which agree to offer financial incentives to honorably-discharged veterans. Virginia Barbeque, founded by entrepreneur Rick Ivey, discounted $5,000 from Martinez’s initial franchise fee. Headquartered in Fredericksburg, Va., the franchise has seven restaurants in operation and three under development. IFA, the world’s oldest and largest organization representing franchisees, franchise companies and suppliers, does not receive government funding for the initiative. Honored by the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs’ Center for Veterans Enterprise as a Support Sector Champion, the association is signatory to an official Memorandum of Understanding with the agency to jointly promote the program.

The three-day Expo was conducted March 30 through April 1. A current list of participating companies and the discounts they offer is available at IFA’s Web site,, under “VetFran Directory.” There, veterans may review a franchise’s details and contact company representatives directly via e-mail. VA’s Web site   offers guidance to aid veteran-owned small businesses.