Veterans Affairs Secretary Honors Little Caesars Founder Michael Ilitch
Washington, DC – In recognition of his service to Veterans, Honorable R. James Nicholson, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, will present Little Caesar Enterprises, Inc. founder Michael Ilitch with the Secretary’s Award, the highest tribute given to a private citizen by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. The ceremony, which will take place today in the nation’s capitol at the Department of Veterans Affairs at 2:30 p.m. ET, recognizes Mr. Ilitch’s industry-leading support of Veterans through the Little Caesars Veterans Program.
“Michael Ilitch has demonstrated great patriotism by providing business opportunities to honorably discharged Veterans through the Little Caesars Veterans Program,” said Nicholson. “This award, the highest honor my office can bestow, represents the VA’s appreciation of a Detroit business leader who is making a difference for U.S. military Veterans as they transition to civilian life or make a career change.”
Launched on Veterans Day (November 9) 2006, the program provides honorably discharged, service-disabled Veterans who qualify as Little Caesars franchisees a benefit of up to $68,000. Honorably discharged, non service-disabled Veterans who qualify as Little Caesars franchisees are eligible for a benefit of $10,000. Ilitch, a former Marine, has made giving back part of the way Little Caesars has done business since shortly after opening the first store in 1959.
“Veterans and their families have made significant sacrifices for our country, and I feel that it’s important to acknowledge that, and to thank them for their service,” said Michael Ilitch, founder and chairman, Little Caesars. “As I thought about the businesses I own, I thought what better way to say thank you to the men and women who have given so much for our nation than to provide them with a business opportunity: becoming a Little Caesars franchisee. I’m very honored that the program, and the people who created it, are being recognized with this prestigious award.”
The entrepreneurial spirit is the backbone of the American way of life, and an important part of our economy. Michael Ilitch and his wife, Marian, grew their first business from one pizza store into an international chain, and the success of that business enabled them to purchase businesses in the sports and entertainment industries, including the 2006 American League Champion Detroit Tigers and the 10-time Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings.
Now Mr. Ilitch is reaching out to Veterans, providing them with an opportunity to become entrepreneurs so that they can develop independent business, provide jobs for others and contribute to a vibrant U.S. economy. The Ilitches are committed to the philosophy that private enterprise and civic involvement are the real strength of the American way of life.
Interest remains high in the Little Caesars Veterans Program. Currently, more than 1,100 inquiries have been made about the program and 15 veterans have been approved to become Little Caesars franchisees. The first Little Caesars store was opened under the program by Veteran Martin Lorenz on July 31, 2007, in Ft. Meyers, Florida. Four more Veterans are expected to open stores under the program by the end of 2007.
Past recipients of the Secretary’s Award include singers Toby Keith and Wayne Newton, actress Bo Derek, and NASCAR driver Richard Petty.
About Little Caesars
Little Caesars Pizza founders Michael and Marian Ilitch opened their first restaurant in Garden City, Michigan in 1959. Today, Little Caesars is the largest carry-out chain in the world with restaurants on five continents. Little Caesars is growing in prime markets across the country, and is offering strong franchisee candidates an opportunity for independence with a proven system. In addition, Little Caesars offers strong brand awareness with one of the most recognized characters in the country, Little Caesar, that appeals to both adults and children.
Little Caesars is an Ilitch-owned company along with, the Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Tigers, Olympia Entertainment, Olympia Development, Blue Line Foodservice Distribution, Champion Foods, Uptown Entertainment, Little Caesars Pizza Kit Fundraising Program, and a variety of venues within these entities.