In an industry that champions the growth and development of our community’s future – children – we are humbled and honored to receive the Community Investment Corporation’s “Small Business of the Year” Award for 2023. This recognition not only symbolizes our dedication to providing an education and strong foundation for thousands of children across Connecticut, but also emphasizes the paramount importance of the childcare industry. We thank the community, our amazing staff and team, the children, and their families who make our journey so rewarding. And of course, the CIC, for the support and partnership that has made our growth possible. 

The CIC is an economic development lending company that offers financing and support to small businesses in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. The CIC, in short, allows entrepreneurs to do what they do best – innovate. Louis Silva, President of the CIC, along with the rest of the corporation and the SBA, and Webster Bank, have been a huge support to the growth of Bright & Early. 

“When I was seeking funding for my third center back in 2011, the bank at the time said I was ‘just a start up’ and that the daycare industry was too risky,” said April Lukasik, Founder & President of Bright & Early. “Well, Webster Bank & CIC collaborating with the SBA ended up financing that center, and fast forward to today — they are now financing my tenth center. I am grateful and honored to have such a great partnership with the CIC, SBA, and Webster Bank. I am especially grateful to Annette Larabee of Webster Bank, and Louis Silva – President of CIC, with SBA lending.” 

The childcare industry is having quite a moment and receiving much well-deserved attention. Not only are childcare centers safe places for children to spend their days, but also early learning environments that foster social, emotional, and cognitive development. Over the last few years, and especially after COVID, there is a new level of respect for childcare, as it has emerged as the backbone of the economy. Parents and families were able to go back to work with peace of mind that their children are being cared for and receiving an early education that will serve them for the rest of their lives. 

We owe this recognition to our incredible staff and team, whose unwavering commitment and true dedication to the well-being of the children under our care has paved the way for this incredible honor.