The Clarkfield City Council intended to open sealed bids for the daycare project. Unfortunately, no bids were received. City Administrator Amanda Luepke has been talking to businesses and individuals across the county to gauge interest in the project, and prospective donations. So far, she has gathered $90,000 between the two businesses she's approached. She told the council she estimated she could raise around $275,000 from donations, and around $500,000 total. The project has also already been awarded several grants, and the task force is in the process of applying for the Bush Foundation Grant, which would bring in an additional $200,000.
According to an architect that looked at the property and the project, the estimated cost for everything will be around $400,000. Mayor Lobdell expressed concerns about "overbuilding," meaning, building a daycare that is bigger than needed, never completely filling the available spots. "Once other cities build daycares the parents will pull their kids out." Public Works Director Dustin Kramer pointed out a catch-22 of people not wanting to make bids until the money is there, and people not wanting to donate until they "see something happening."
Luepke pitched her vision of this daycare being a catalyst to grow Clarkfield's population. Parents will move to where daycare is, and then commute to work, instead of having to drive to daycare, to work, back to daycare and then home. 50% of the daycare's 58 spots are already filled. There is a county wide daycare crisis, and no other city is even thinking about starting a daycare. The daycare will require nine employees if all the spots are filled. She also mentioned how businesses might be more interested in Clarkfield's Industrial Park if there is a daycare in the city.
Luepke has not yet aggressively pursued fundraising yet, because she wanted to check if the council agreed with the direction of the project. Council member Sue Fritz mentioned her past experience fundraising for projects in Marshall. She said, "The support Amanda has is way beyond any we had in Marshall, and those projects were completed." She motioned for the city to contribute $25,000 for project management fees and architect fees, which passed with a unanimous vote.