In 2018, now small business owner Kristin Andrews identified an immense shortage of childcare in the local community and began looking for a building location. That prognosis, along with a strong entrepreneurial spirit, led to Kristin opening the Blue Fish Early Learning Center in September 2019 to create an educational-based child care center located in Kalkaska, Michigan that accepts children from birth to 12 years old.
When the business was first getting started, Kristin faced the obstacle of securing financing to cover start-up costs and working capital. She worked with Michigan SBDC and Northwest Michigan Region Business Consultant Samantha McDonald, who helped her develop a business and financial plan which ultimately helped Kristin secure a loan from Venture North, a funding institution in Northern Michigan.
“I am happy that I was referred to the SBDC,” said Kristin Andrews. “Samantha McDonald has been a tremendous resource in opening my business, staying afloat in a pandemic and even more. I am truly grateful for the services.”
When COVID-19 hit, Kristin had to decide whether or not to close her business. And if she chose to keep the business open, how she could do it safely. The Michigan SBDC helped Kristin apply for and secure grants and loans such as the EIDL loan, EIDL advance, and the PPP loan/grant. This was crucial to help keep the Blue Fish Early Learning Center open and allowed Kristen to continue to pay her employees. As a result, Kristin was able to keep the business going and has now more than doubled the number of students that she serves, continuing to fill an overgrowing need!
Prior to COVID-19, Blue Fish Early Learning Center had 34 student enrollments. Today, they have more than doubled their enrollments with 86 students. Not only have they been able to help many local families get the childcare that they need, but they have also increased their staffing in turn creating additional jobs in the community.
You can learn more about the Blue Fish Early Learning Center by visiting www.facebook.com/bluefishelc/.