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Sylvan Learning looking to expand Central Pa. presence

By - Last modified: October 10, 2012 at 9:13 AM

Sylvan Learning Inc., the Baltimore, Md.-based provider of in-center and online tutoring for pre-K through 12th-graders, is looking to expand its midstate presence with the help of a digital learning system.

The company last October launched SylvanSync, a system that uses iPads to support student instruction.

“The teacher and student can use this technology to make learning fun, make it stick and be effective,” said Barbara Timm-Brock, Sylvan’s chief growth officer.

The digital platform also allows business owners to bring their franchises outside brick-and-mortar locations and set up satellite sites for instruction across their territory. Tutoring can be done anytime anywhere as long as the teacher has an Internet connection.

“We’re actively looking at Pennsylvania as a growth market,” Timm-Brock said. “We already have over $6 million in business in Pennsylvania. We have an opportunity to more than double that.”

In Central Pennsylvania, Sylvan has learning centers established in Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties. There also is a location in neighboring Franklin County.

The bulk of Sylvan sites in Pennsylvania are in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh markets.

“We’re very community-based. People tend to stick to towns they are comfortable with,” Timm-Brock said. “We’re trying to get out to growing areas.”

The midstate’s population has grown by about 1 percent annually since 2000, according to recent Census data.

Sylvan has about 800 centers throughout North America. The digital system could more than double the number of locations in a short period of time, Timm-Brock said.

“We expect exponential growth over the next one to two years,” she said.

The company currently has about 400 franchise owners. The license fee to buy a territory is $48,000, and Sylvan recommends owners have about $75,000 in working capital.