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Maintaining a business in these recessionary times is difficult enough. But to grow a business now, and to do so in what is arguably the most ethnically diverse county in the country with its ongoing influx of immigrants speaking 150 different languages, must require some sort of exceptional service. And that’s the secret to success for the Rosedale Gifted Academy Elementary & Preschool.
Coming from Jamaica herself at age 33 to explore new opportunities, Rosedale Owner, Pauline Brown, first tried a career in geriatric nursing. It took only a year for Brown to decide that the profession, with its overnight hours, would not accommodate the lifestyle she desired.
One day a friend asked her to baby sit her two-month old. Subsequently, another friend asked her to sit a three-month old, and another, a five month old. Brown soon realized she had found her calling and opened a daycare business— first in her home and then growing to a rented facility. She now owns that facility and enrollment has grown to 60 children.
That enrollment ballooned primarily by word-of-mouth marketing. "I have parents from as far away as Brooklyn, the Bronx and Exit 32 of the LIE dropping off their children," said Brown. "We’re also ‘multi-generational’ now, with parents enrolling their first-borns, second-borns and third-borns."
Wanting to grow her business further, Brown required a loan with which to acquire additional classroom space. So she approached several lending institutions with her proposal to acquire a second building, just steps away from the current facility.
None of the lenders entertained her proposal, but fortuitously one of them referred Brown to the York College Small Business Development Center. The SBDC is funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration and offers free business counseling and training. The SBDC counselors sized up her project and decided the Greater Jamaica Local Development Corporation might be interested in her proposal.
The counselors helped Brown tweak her business plan and arranged for several meetings with the GJLDC. The GJLDC ultimately extended Brown a $150,000 loan at an extremely attractive 5 percent interest rate. The capital infusion allowed Rosedale to grow its space by 25 percent and will accommodate enrollment to over 100, and hire five new employees in addition to its current roster of 14.
"Our schools are growing with daily enrollment and that gives us the opportunity to change young lives for the better," said Brown. "That’s attributable in part to the work of the SBDC team and I highly recommend that other entrepreneurs take advantage of them."