It was not too long ago that the building at 14050 East Eight Mile on Detroit’s east side was an illegal marijuana shop that the city shutdown. Friday, it was reopened as Blessed Beginnings Learning Center, a five-star quality rated daycare business.
Owned by Detroiter LaShawn Bridges, she received a $75,000 cash grant from the Motor City Match (MCM) program to open a second location of her business, in a neighborhood that was in desperate need of daycare educational centers. Bridges cut the ribbon to her new facility alongside Mayor Mike Duggan, Detroit Council Member of District 3 Scott Benson, other dignitaries, and a host of family and friends.
“It takes a village to raise a child and Blessed Beginnings is the village,” said Bridges, who is a graduate of Detroit Martin Luther King High School and has a master’s degree from Oakland University. “In this neighborhood, you see plenty of liquor stores, gentlemen clubs, and all the places that are not helping families better themselves. When parents bring their children here, they are going to be blessed.”
Bridges started her daycare business out of her mother’s home in 1999 on Somerset Avenue on the city’s east side and when she married, moved the business to its current location at her home on Eastburn. She began with two children, serves 12 now at the Eastburn location, and will accommodate 60 children at the new center, complete with a long waiting list.
Blessed Beginnings will offer Early Head Start, STEAM curriculum, free field trips, and regular vision and dental screenings to families. Each of the four classrooms are furnished with developmentally appropriate furniture, materials, and equipment and a playground is included outside. Bridges said she serves children six months to five-years-old.
“It was very necessary that I find a new facility that will help other families as well,” she said.
Motor City Match connects new and expanding businesses with Detroit’s quality real estate opportunities, providing them with funding and tools to fuel the city’s entrepreneurial revolution. The program has successfully aided more than 1,300 entrepreneurs through 15 rounds, awarding $7.5M in cash grants to 170 entrepreneurs on their journey from “idea to open.” Seventy percent are women-owned businesses, with Bridges’ daycare being the latest one.
“When we started Motor City Match, Detroiters like LaShawn Bridges is who we had in mind,” said Mayor Duggan. “She is somebody who runs her own business out of her home, has a wonderful reputation, and found a space in her own neighborhood and made her dream come true of having her business on a main road in Detroit. Now, families that have to catch the bus to daycare don’t have to walk blocks to get here.”
Along with serving 60 children, Bridges will be putting 12 full-time employees to work, along with a number of other part-time workers and other staff.
“Creating jobs at the neighborhood level was one of the main goals of Motor City Match,” said Pierre Batton, vice president of small business services for the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC). “Creating jobs for people in the neighborhood is exactly what you want to see when you talk about strengthening neighborhoods and growing Detroit.”