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Lightbridge Academy Celebrates Mid-Year Momentum With Signings to Open Eight New Locations, Including its First Signing to Develop in Texas

One of the nation's fastest-growing early education and child care brands is opening in untapped markets while also signing existing franchisees for additional territories.

Lightbridge Academy, one of the nation’s leading providers of early education and child care, is wrapping up the first half of 2022 with impressive franchise growth — the brand signed for a total of eight new centers, opened new locations and has officially signed a franchisee for its first center in Texas. Lightbridge Academy has also seen four existing owners expand to new territories so far this year.

“Over the years, the concentration has been on building out concentrically from New Jersey to Pennsylvania and New York, and really becoming operationally strong,” said Senior Vice President of Franchise Sales Jim DiRugeris. “We wanted to build close to home, build out the infrastructure and make sure that we could support our existing owners before expanding further from the home base. Now we’re more than ready for that expansion, and so are our franchisees.”

For example, one of this year’s new signings is in Dallas-Fort Worth, marking the brand’s first entry into the state of Texas. The team has big plans for the Lone Star State, with room to add 35 locations in Dallas and 30 in Houston. Each location will create about 35 jobs for the local community. 

“The Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas are ideal markets for Lightbridge Academy’s Texas expansion,” said Lightbridge Academy CEO Gigi Schweikert. “We strive to bring trusted child care in areas of rapid growth where options are limited, and Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth fit that demand.”

Lightbridge Academy is also focusing on its expansion in Florida, with an upcoming location in Port St. Lucie expected to open in Spring 2023. The brand then plans to open locations in the Tampa, Lakeland, Orlando and Palm Beach areas, creating up to 35 jobs with each location. 

Schweikert says a big reason behind Lightbridge Academy’s continued growth is the team’s unique understanding of the challenges families face today. “Since the beginning of the pandemic, it has been challenging for working parents to be able to get their jobs done while also caring for their children during the day,” said Schweikert. “We are so honored to be The Solution for Working Parents®, gaining the trust of families in all the communities we are serving. We are looking forward to continuing to open in new markets across the U.S. throughout 2022.”

Lightbridge Academy continues to develop industry-leading programs like ParentView® Internet Monitoring, a parent eCommunication app, extended hours and state-of-the-art security systems. In 2020, the brand also introduced The Lightbridge Promise®, the gold standard in health and safety for child care, including installing an enhanced air purification and filtration system along with heightened cleaning and sanitation processes.

These initiatives are all part of the brand’s Circle of Care philosophy. Simply put, the Circle of Care recognizes the network surrounding a child’s development by placing equal importance on the needs of children, their families, teachers, center owners and the community. 

“That means franchisees are part of the Circle of Care — and an integral part of a network that truly cares, supports and encourages one another, and helps every franchisee succeed every step of the way,” said Schweikert. “Franchisees are never alone. Lightbridge Academy has created and refined the business model over the years to provide them with the benefit of its proven system.”

This proven business model, strong support infrastructure and growing demand explain not only why new owners are joining Lightbridge Academy but also why existing franchisees continue to invest in the brand and expand to multiple territories. Now, looking ahead to the rest of the year, the team hopes to sign 15 new agreements before the end of 2022. And those interested would be wise to move fast, as territories are filling up quickly.

“As the first half of this year has shown, we are expanding rapidly but responsibly with both new and existing franchisees,” said DiRugeris. “We are not selling licenses; we are awarding franchises — and there's a huge difference. For me, it's about building relationships and bringing like-minded individuals into the system who are going to share our core values, support the other franchisees and execute on the Circle of Care to show our care for children, parents, team members, franchise owners and the communities in which we’re located. There is no greater compliment than to have your existing franchisees seeking to grow with you and open more locations. It is foundational to a strong brand, and we are grateful for the opportunity to grow this amazing brand with them.” 

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