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Members of The American Pizza Community (APC) were on Capitol Hill on June 6 meeting with lawmakers during their second-annual fly-in. Small business franchise owners affiliated with pizza retailers from some of the largest chains such as Domino’s Pizza, Figaro’s, Godfather’s, Hungry Howie’s, Little Caesars, Papa John’s, and Pizza Hut to some of the smallest along with their company representatives and supplier partner Leprino Foods met with more than 70 congressional offices to educate lawmakers about the unique aspects of the pizza industry and the policies affecting local pizza stores – the quintessential small business.
APC representatives discussed the economic impact of the pizza industry including the fact that pizza is a $35 billion industry in the U.S. that creates jobs for more than a million people. They also described the impact of issues directly affecting the pizza community including dairy and ethanol policy, menu labeling, and tax reform.
Pizza operators were asking policymakers to support The Dairy Freedom Act because the success of the dairy industry and dairy farmers is critically important to the pizza industry as approximately 25 percent of the cheese produced in the U.S. ends up on a pizza.
Another policy affecting pizza operators includes The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act, legislation that calls for sensible, cost-effective solutions for nutrition disclosure. Pizza store owners support a uniform nutrition disclosure standard that makes sense for the unique way a pizza is ordered, their delivery and pick-up business model and their customers.
"Of all of my political activities that I'm involved in, going to Washington D.C. for a fly-in is the most effective thing I can do,” says Jim McNerney, owner and operator of 14 Pizza Hut restaurants in western Pennsylvania. “If we are not in D.C. talking about our issues, then someone else will be, and it will probably not be in our best interest! Sitting face to face with your member of Congress allows you to educate them on our business and how their decisions can affect it. So many times they associate the trade name as a part of the larger, multi-national franchisor, and not the small business that we really are. It is usually very enlightening for them, when they realize the jobs we create, the taxes we pay, and the economic stimulus we put into their districts and states.”
"As a small business owner myself, I understand the struggles small businesses face on a daily basis," says Bill Huizenga, Michigan representative. "Any time we can streamline the tax and regulatory process it means less time franchisees and small business owners have to spend on compliance and more time they can spend producing their product and creating jobs. It is a tremendous privilege to meet with constituents who have taken the time away from their business to discuss ideas concerning what government can do to alleviate roadblocks to private sector job growth."
Representatives Henry Cuellar (Texas-28) and Peter Roskam (Illinois-06) also welcomed the group to Washington and shared their experiences of legislating and how much they value hearing directly from constituents.
New members of the American Pizza Community include California Pizza Kitchen and Two Boots Pizza.