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Business, dot Census, dot Gov, forward slash Franchising is coming our way this fall. For our tech savvy readers that would be business.census.gov/franchising. Culminating work that began in 2007 with the U.S. Census Bureau, the agency has created a special section for the franchise industry on the Census website for the 2012 Economic Census. This fall, between October and December, the U.S. Census Bureau will send out Economic Census forms to more than 4 million businesses with paid employees. You or someone in your business may be the person asked to provide data on behalf of your company. So why is this important to your business and why is it important to the franchising industry? Here’s why:

Responses to the Economic Census provide key data that will help create the U.S. government’s official measure of American business and the economy.
Federal agencies rely on Economic Census data as the basis for key measures of economic activity such as the Gross Domestic Product or GDP and monthly retail sales.
Trade and business associations, like the International Franchise Association, use Economic Census data to report key business facts, to measure industry growth, jobs and the economic impact of government policies.

Businesses use Economic Census data to support business decisions and planning, to spot markets for growth, to evaluate location and investment decisions and to apply for business loans.

“Statistics from the Economic Census on franchising show the vital role that franchise businesses play in the U.S. economy as contributors to growth and jobs for thousands of entrepreneurs and millions of American workers,” said IFA President and CEO Steve Caldeira, CFE.

The 2007 Economic Census established the baseline for the franchise industry’s economic impact studies, our quarterly forecasts, and our monthly Franchise Business Index report. It would be hard to imagine how we could provide key economic data on output, jobs and contributions to GDP without the Census.

Small businesses that receive a Census survey form, when taken together, have a real impact on the economy. Small firms are chosen from statistically selected samples, and each one chosen represents many similar businesses–so each firm has a great impact. The five-year Economic Census shows the growth of the industry over time as more and more entrepreneurs choose the franchise model as a way to start and grow businesses.

Census forms will be distributed this fall to large- and medium-sized business in the United States and to a sample of small companies with employees. The due date for completion of the Census survey is Feb. 12, 2013, and data will become available in late 2013 and early 2014. Under federal law, penalties may be levied for noncompliance and the same law requires the Census Bureau to honor the confidentiality of all respondents. No data are published that could reveal the identity or activity of any individual or business.

John R. Reynolds, CFE, is president of the International Franchise Association’s Educational Foundation. He can be reached at 202-662-0764 or jreynolds@franchise.org.

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