By Amanda Kuhnert
This fall the Rutland area has a new child-care center, thanks to the vision and determination of business owner Lacy Hall. Previously, Hall operated a registered daycare program out of her home. She loves her work and is passionate about the importance of early childhood education. But as an at-home provider, she was able to care for a maximum of 10 children, which barely scratched the surface of the local demand for child care.
Hall envisioned a larger space where she could offer high-quality, hands-on early childhood education for over 40 children, age newborn to five years old. Along with increased capacity, a new locale would allow her to expand her programming, with offerings like yoga, gardening, pottery, and even Zoomba.
Hall needed help writing a business plan that would help her secure the financing needed to grow her business. Last summer she began working with advisor Nancy Shuttleworth at the Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC). “During Covid-19 I was unsure if I could find the help I needed to take my business from a plan to a reality,” she said. “I did with VtSBDC! Their expertise, knowledge and experience really pushed my businesses in the right direction. I learned that business plans do not have to be frustrating.”
A vision comes to fruition
In July Hall opened Expedition Kids, a 4,000-square foot space where she has created the experiential learning environment she had dreamt of. “We believe in inspiring our students to discover who they are by exploring the world around them,” Hall said. “Whether that be through the local food they eat, the mud and paint they play in, or the community hands they hold.”
The center’s convenient location provides more opportunities for field trips and outdoor excursions. “Our curriculum gets students out into our community, whether it’s volunteering at the animal shelter, visiting the fire department, or just hiking in our beautiful state parks,” Hall said. As part of her business launch, Hall introduced new offerings like Parents Night Out and a hiking club, as well as a parent/teacher app that enables loved ones to view a live feed of their child’s daily activities.
Along with managing a new location, Hall also has made the transition from sole proprietor to employer. In this new role, she recognizes the importance of attracting and retaining her fellow child-care providers. “We offer a unique benefits package for our teachers, along with paid vacations, yearly bonuses, team-bonding activities, and monthly awards for a job well done,” she said.
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