Leading early education and child care company Lightbridge Academy began franchising in 2011, leveraging nearly 15 years of experience to build a child care center like no other. With 36 open locations, and 70 additional franchises either sold or in development, the company recently gained recognition for its growth on the Franchise Times Top 200+. Now, it is announcing its next targeted expansion planned for Tampa, Florida, with the potential to open five new locations, generating more than 150 jobs.
Mark Mele, Senior Vice President of Franchise Development, says Tampa is a key market for the franchise’s overall development strategy.
“As we grow our system, we’re looking to establish new franchises in prime markets,” he said. “We’ve successfully launched 36 locations in the Mid-Atlantic, and now, we’re working our way south with Tampa as a key area for development. We understand the challenges working parents face and we recognize their need for quality and nurturing care - this is why we have developed industry leading programs including in-classroom monitoring, a parent eCommunication app, extended hours and state-of-the-art security systems that align with and will be an asset to the demographics of the Tampa area.”
With a 2.21 percent population increase over the last year, Tampa has been consistently growing. It’s currently the largest metropolitan area in Florida, with expectations to increase from 3 million to 3.3 million in the next five years. And with population growth comes a heightened demand for educational resources.
“The Tampa area is the perfect place for Lightbridge Academy’s expansion into Florida,” said Mele. “There is a current boom of families needing our services as The Solution for Working Parents® in Tampa. These families need child care support and desire a solid educational curriculum.”
With plans to open a new high school in Tampa in 2020, absorbing nearly 2,000 students from the East Bay area, it’s clear that the market needs to continue to find the right resources to provide more early education options to the boom of families moving in.
Lightbridge Academy is currently seeking qualified franchise candidates for the city’s first five franchises. And once on board, Mele says the development team will bring them through the process to identify an ideal location for their center.
“We have a very strategic real estate selection process,” he said. “The majority of our facilities are freestanding locations in highly visible locations. We vet each site for the average income level, number of children and families, and a variety of other demographic factors. We take a deep dive to make sure these are places where young families are growing so there will be a consistent influx of business.”
In addition to the 150 jobs the five new Lightbridge Academy centers will bring to Tampa, Mele says the city will benefit from the franchise’s mission to become a pillar of each community it enters.
“Lightbridge’s Circle of Care philosophy is woven through every part of our operations,” he said. “We look at the communities we serve as part of our extended family. That goes for our franchisees, their employees, and obviously our customers, but it also applies to the towns and area businesses where we build our centers. We want to be known in all of our markets, not just as a daycare option, but as a valuable resource for families and as an active contributor to the community.”
As Lightbridge Academy prepares to enter the Tampa market, Mele is confident that they will identify franchisees who are a fit with the company’s values.
“Lightbridge Academy operations are so well designed and streamlined, you don’t need to be a career teacher or child care professional to run it,” he said. “We are looking for smart business people who are passionate about the care and education of children, understand the need to support parents and are committed to following our model. In fact, we have noticed that the Lightbridge model is a good fit for business owners who have experience in senior care and similar service based industries. We’re looking forward to finding strong franchisees to open the Tampa market.”
The start-up costs for a Lightbridge Academy franchise range from $541,228 to $733,635. The franchise fee is $60,000. For more information about owning a Lightbridge Academy franchise, visit http://lightbridgeacademyfranchise.com/.