The newly formed Maine Franchise Owners Association has opened offices in Portland.

The group, funded by fees paid by franchise owners, aims to be a voice for small, locally owned businesses, many of which are frustrated by red tape and laws in Maine that make it tough to do business in the state, said Jim Coen, executive director of the association.

“Our goal is to create more investment and more jobs in Maine,” Coen said. “The Legislature plays a role in business in Maine – and Maine is a small-business state. Businesses are frustrated with the mandates, laws in the state that affect small businesses’ ability to operate and grow.”

There are more than 3,500 franchised units in the state that employ more than 38,000 Mainers with a payroll that exceeds $1 billion, according the International Franchise Association.

The Portland-based Maine Franchise Owners Association includes owners and suppliers throughout the state, according to Coen, who said he has worked at franchises but does not own one himself.

Franchise operations in the state vary from yogurt chains to cleaning services to tax preparation services. Some of the biggest franchise locations in Maine include Dunkin’ Donuts, which has 140 locations, KFC/Taco Bell/Pizza Hut, with 125 locations, and Subway, with 107 locations.

“It’s a diverse group, but they’re all business owners. There are certain issues that affect all businesses,” Coen said. “Part of the problem is they haven’t been part of the process and haven’t had a voice before.”

The following cities in Maine have the largest number of franchise locations: Bangor with 98, Portland with 95, South Portland with 67, and Augusta with 63, the association said.

Jessica Hall may be reached at 791-6316 or at:

[email protected]