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Building a better child-care business
Building a better child-care business
Year: 2004
Winner: Sheree Mitchell
Company: Growing Room, Inc. in Columbus, Ga.

Since Sheree Mitchell won the SBA award in 2004, she's seen a 40% increase in revenues for Growing Rooms, her child development care center business. It reported sales of close to $7 million in 2007. Last year, she launched Growing Room Franchising Systems, Inc., and has just seen her first franchise open in Auburn, Ala.

Picking the brain of Quiznos CEO Richard Schaden at a formal dinner the day after she received the SBA's national award gave her a good head-start in learning about franchising, Mitchell says.

Mitchell started Growing Room with her husband in 1988. A practicing pediatric nurse and a single mom for much of her son's early childhood, Mitchell was frustrated with the poor quality of child-care services - and decided to see if she could do better. Since its launch two decades ago, her business has expanded into two company-owned child development centers and taken over the management of several corporate child care facilities. A contract with the insurance company Aflac helped Growing Room double in size in 2000. These days, the company works with more than 900 children.

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Last updated April 23 2008: 2:06 PM ET

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