MADISON, WI. AUG. 21, 2019 – The City of Ashland is receiving a $155,400 state grant to help finance the renovation of an existing commercial building into a brand-new child care facility.

The Community Development Investment Grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) will support a complete interior renovation of the future EverGrow Learning Center (EGLC) near the downtown area in order to serve the residents of Ashland and surrounding communities with adequate childcare options, thus allowing for increased participation in the labor force.

“WEDC is committed to supporting communities throughout the state as they invest in quality infrastructure and services to revitalize their downtowns to encourage economic growth,” said Mark R. Hogan, secretary and CEO of WEDC. “By increasing the availability of child care, the project not only allows for increased participation in the Ashland labor force, but it will serve to foster economic health, quality of life and a sense of community for its citizens.”

The EGLC project is a partnership between the City of Ashland and the EGLC Board of Directors, a collaboration of public and private entities to address a need for child care in the Ashland community. The Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board (NWWIB) and the Ashland Area Development Corporation have been overseeing the development for the past three years.

“The Ashland community is extremely grateful to WEDC for its financial support of this critical economic development project. The shortage of quality day care in our region has been identified as a key need for working parents,” said Ashland Mayor Debra Lewis. “The EverGrow Learning Center has come to fruition through collaboration of many entities to solve a problem and is a very positive step for our community.”

“Community development today is as much or more about talent attraction and retention, place-making and family-centered strategies as it is about business recruitment,” said EGLC Project Coordinator Melissa Rabska of the Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board. “The lack of child care is an issue in the Ashland area that has impacted the available workforce and has also stunted economic growth. With the tight job market and the historically low unemployment rates that northwest Wisconsin has been seeing, employers are finding it even more difficult to fill positions. The EverGrow Learning Center is a creative grassroots solution to address this barrier felt by all levels of the workforce, from entry-level positions to upper-level professionals.”

Once open, the EGLC will have the capacity for nearly 100 children and will create 15 full-time positions. New extended hours from 6 6 p.m. will provide businesses and workers in the region with child care that accommodates shift work and early or late hours. The EGLC is an effective and immediate response to fill a gap in the market for these services that have been identified by residents of the surrounding community. The city stated that the online waiting list already has more than 150 families looking for child care in the very near future.

The remodel design plans include five individual classrooms, an indoor play area, a new fenced-in playground area, and a community room to provide educational opportunities for parents and provide a meeting space for organizations in the region. EGLC expects construction to be completed by fall 2019.

“My first job out of college was working as a director of the child care department at the Red Cliff Tribe,” said state Rep. Beth Meyers. “I’ve also been a single parent who needed reliable child care to get by. I know firsthand the importance of quality, dependable child care, and I am thrilled at what this center will mean for so many families and employers in Ashland. I’m thankful to WEDC and the active community members who worked so hard to bring this to their city.”

WEDC’s Community Development Investment Grant Program supports community development and redevelopment efforts, primarily in downtown areas. The matching grants are awarded based on the ability of applicants to demonstrate the economic impact of the proposed project, including public and private partnership development, financial need and use of sustainable downtown development practices.

Since the program’s inception in 2013, WEDC has awarded more than $24 million in Community Development Investment Grants to 101 communities for projects expected to generate more than $500 million in capital investments statewide.