HUDSON — Owners of a startup business hope to apply the early education lessons they have learned to franchise their concepts for preschools.
Professional Education Consultants LLC obtained a $30,000 microloan from Pasco Economic Development Council.
Owners are Heather Hart, a former teacher with more than 22 years of experience in early childhood education, and Jonathan Prieto, previously the manager of a large franchised preschool.
Within about four weeks, PEC plans to open its own model preschool, Treehouse Village Early Learning Center, at U.S. 19 and Sunnydale Drive, a bit north of New York Avenue.
PEC will have an office elsewhere on the site.
Treehouse Village will cater to youngsters from birth to age 5 with a high level of care, Hart said.
By this time next year, the firm hopes to look for a site for a second campus, Hart said.
The project might not have gotten off the ground without Economic Development Council help, Hart recalled. The education consulting firm formed in March 2013 with a business plan through 2016.
Traditional lenders, however, did not seem willing to take a chance on a fledgling company.
“They told us we were too new, come back next year,” Hart said.
Its “very humble beginnings” meant PEC was based in a home office during its formation in 2013, Hart said. PEC linked up with a SCORE mentor and pieces began to fall into place.
PEC is the only such education consulting firm in Pasco County, so the project attracted the attention of the PEDC officials who supervise the microloan program.
PEC is the 11th company to earn a microloan and used the money to help open Treehouse Village, Summer Martin, spokesperson for PEDC, said.
“This is just the start,” Hart said in the press release. “We are working on developing a brand of curriculum, and are planning to franchise our model in the future.”
The early education consulting group will assist day care centers and preschools throughout Florida with accreditation, marketing, management team development, licensing, teacher training, profitability enhancement, and remodeling of learning environments. PEC provides social media and website development for early childhood education centers.
“The microloan was established to help startups like PEC, and small companies that may have never borrowed from a bank before or have not been in business long enough to obtain traditional bank financing,” John Walsh, vice president of PEDC, said. “Companies that are awarded a microloan also benefit from receiving technical assistance to help guide them during the startup phase.”
The microloan program receives funds from Pasco County, local banks, and other PEDC Investors.
Companies that need help obtaining nontraditional financing and are headquartered in Pasco County or planning to locate in Pasco County should consider applying for a microloan, Walsh urged. Go online to www.pascoedc.com for more information on how to apply.