Army vet awarded $35,000 franchise -- for free - FOX 13 News

Army vet awarded $35,000 franchise -- for free

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LAKELAND (FOX 13) -

It's not every day you get something for nothing, but an Army veteran in Lakeland did.

C.J. Marcello is on cloud nine, looking for space for his new business.

He is starting a franchise with a nationally known and respected staffing firm with more than 600 offices nationwide.

The franchise fee is $35,000. Wednesday, when he handed over his check to Express Employment Professionals, he got the gift of a lifetime.

"In recognition of your service and dedication, it is an honor to wave your franchise fee and your franchise is free," they told him.

Marcello was in the Army for more than two decades. Express Employment Professionals is giving out five free franchises to

veterans this year. Marcello is the first.

"It is amazing when someone gives you something for free. It is great," Marcello said.

It wasn't only a boost for Marcello, it is a boost for Lakeland as well -- especially in an economy like this when so many people need jobs.

"We expect C.J. to put a lot of people to work," said Kalli Britton, with Express Employment. "It will take some time, but one person at a time, one company at a time, our object is to put hundreds of people to work."

And now Marcello has more money to set down roots, and gear up to do it.

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