Looking for businesses that boost the economy? Consider early education and care programs. They’re part of Boston’s thriving small business community, but they face tough challenges. That’s the focus of a new article on WBUR’s Cognoscenti website written by Mayor Marty Walsh and Marie St. Fleur, president and CEO of the Bessie Tartt Wilson Initiative for Children.
It’s great when General Electric moves to town, but just as important, the article says, “was Melissa Phillips’s decision to open Little Brown Bear Academy in Roxbury. Phillips and her two assistants offer early education and care to 10 boys and girls, providing healthy meals and snacks, a robust learning curriculum and a nurturing environment. These services have a lasting impact by preparing children to succeed when they step foot into the classroom.
“Businesses like Little Brown Bear Academy are the backbone of neighborhood economies. Boston’s approximately 40,000 small businesses generate roughly $15 billion in revenue and create 170,000 jobs annually.”
That’s the good news. But early education and care providers also face “unique challenges beyond meeting the state and local regulations that allow them to operate. They must deal with wage and benefits issues, educational requirements, and paperwork for state and federal voucher and subsidy programs. This has been a persistent struggle for at least the past decade.”
“To help navigate these challenges, the city, Bessie Tartt Wilson Initiative for Children, the University of Massachusetts Boston and Tech Goes Home teamed up last year to launch the Early Education and Care Small Business Innovation Center at Madison Park High School. It will strengthen the financial viability and shared networks of these small business owners, who are predominantly women of color.”
“The center is working with Melissa Phillips and 16 other women who collectively operate independent early education, preschool and day care programs that serve approximately 200 children in Roxbury. It is providing customized business support and access to technology based on a useful platform developed by Tech Goes Home.”
“Though they are ‘small’ businesses, they have the power to change the lives of thousands of young children in their communities. They ensure that our children are healthy and ready to enter kindergarten and get on the ladder to success.”
As the article concludes:
“By bringing together our city’s efforts to support small businesses with the Early Education and Care Small Business Center and other community partners, we can build a stronger future for Boston’s small businesses along with the families and neighborhoods they serve.”
That’s a joint educational and economic victory for children, families, and the city of Boston.