Day care plan rejected twice by YMC Board

Photo by Jody Isaackson Granite Falls City Manger Crystal Johnson and EDA Director Cathy Anderson requested a $25,000 grant from the YMC Board of Commissioners Tuesday and was denied.

GRANITE FALLS — The shrinking number of day care providers in Yellow Medicine County did not stop YMC commissioners from saying “no” twice to Granite Falls Economic Development Authority Director Cathy Anderson at its meeting Tuesday.

Commissioner John Berends made the motion twice to provide $25,000 for the fledgling project. The second time expanded the grant, but it failed to get a second each time.

“I like this approach,” Berends said. “It addresses my concerns about the previous request. It doesn’t compete with private daycare providers.”

Anderson agreed, saying that the money would be used to support Granite Falls and Yellow Medicine County businesses, not go out-of-county.

Anderson provided a little more data for the board to consider and there was the concern that this request for funding would only provide temporary funding for a limited number of private day care providers in the county she was told.

Commissioner Ron Antony had two concerns about this model that was different than the construction project offered by Cardinal Kids of Clarkfield at the last commissioners’ meeting.

“The two things that concern me are that we gave a one-time $25,000 grant to Clarkfield to build a building and they had huge donations from the community showing their support,” Antony said. “This funding for Granite Falls will get eaten up. I would like to see what kind of amount this community is giving in support. It appears that the county is the main contributor.”

“Granite Falls is pledging $25,000. The EDA, local businesses and individual donations are also coming in,” Anderson said. “We’ve also applied for the $50,000 DEED grant.”

Granite Falls City Manager Crystal Johnson added that they had opened negotiations to apply for a Bush Foundation Grant as well.

Unlike the Clarkfield group, they hadn’t included grant monies they had not already received, they said.

Board Chair Gary Johnson asked if they had contacting Chippewa County which is also in Granite Falls city limits, yet, and Anderson said, not yet, but she intended to do so.

The new day care remodeling for the site at the community vocational technical college was also brought up. Anderson said she had treated that like any other private business that applies for an EDA loan.

But the $25,000 grant would go to help new day cares open, providing 12 spots per providers, something the county was in deep need of.

“I have no problem giving money to the municipality-run Clarkfield day care,” Johnson said. “I have a problem giving money to privately owned businesses.”

“But, EDA money goes to for-profit models. For-profit models require 5,000 to 7,000 minimum square feet in order to make a profit,” Anderson said. “So, it doesn’t fit home day cares.”

“If we’re going to provide a fund for Granite Falls, they we have to create another one for Clarkfield and for each town across the board,” Antony said. “This is different (than Cardinal Kids).”

Anderson was in a bind. She had scheduled a meeting for Wednesday where daycare providers from Canby, Clara City, Clarkfield, Montevideo, Porter and Wood Lake were coming to hear the results of the YMC Board vote.

“What do I tell them, now?” Anderson asked.

“What couldn’t you make a countywide grant?” County Administrator Peg Heglund asked.

“That’s a good suggestion,” Johnson said. “I think we need more information. This topic is not yet closed,” he said, although it had failed twice already, counting the request at the last meeting. Berends made his second motion at this time, including a second grant of $25,000 for a countywide assistance to private day care providers across the country in addition to the original for those within the city of Granite Falls. It, too, died for lack of a second.

Antony said that he understood the need for help on behalf of private day care providers and the huge need for more providers, but he said this has to be approached differently.

“I think the door’s still open,” Johnson said.