Celebrate, Recognize Economic Development in Wadena County!
26 Apr 2022
One of the strongest drivers in the overall health of an area’s business and residential environment is economic development. In Wadena County, that environment is led by many small businesses and entrepreneurs. Those individuals and organizations are fortunate to have a significant advocate for their success in the West Central Economic Development Alliance (Economic Alliance).
From May 9 to May 13, the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is hosting its seventh annual National Economic Development Week (EDW), as an incredibly beneficial resource to local economic development efforts like those provided by the Economic Alliance.
EDW is an opportunity to recognize the Economic Alliance, local leaders and other organizations that work tirelessly toward building a vibrant and sustainable community through activities like recruiting investors, developing businesses, creating jobs, enhancing the tax base and ultimately improving the quality of life of their communities. There are many resources available for those looking to participate in this year's events. The IEDC’s #EconDevWeek22 Toolkit offers a number of ideas while using #EconDevWeek22 can help amplify the value EDOs have in a community.
The Economic Alliance seeks to improve the ability to do business in Wadena County, giving a voice to local economic and business interests by providing educational, networking and advocacy resources.
Addressing child care
One of the more recent arenas the Economic Alliance has focused on is addressing the major ongoing need in Wadena County for quality childcare. Employees have a difficult time committing to their careers and their places of employment without the reassurances child care providers supply. In 2019, the Economic Alliance was involved in addressing this issue when Wadena County was awarded the opportunity to participate in an initiative by First Children’s Finance called the Rural Child Care Innovation Program (RCCIP). Community participants developed a Community Solution Action Plan for Wadena County to improve the state of the area’s child care. First Children’s Finance conducted a Supply-Demand Gap Analysis which revealed a child care shortage has severely impacted parents living in Wadena County. Key findings included:
- Nearly 34% of survey respondents declined employment or withdrew from the workforce due to child care issues.
- Over 5% of businesses reported a lack of child care contributes to issues with employee recruitment.
- 37% of businesses feel that there is a shortage of child care in the community.
- Childcare providers face numerous obstacles to running a successful operation due to numerous rules and regulations, low pay and no benefits, long hours and high operating costs. According to ChildCareAware® of America, the national median wage for childcare workers in 2020 was around $12 per hour and most don’t have employer-provided health insurance or other benefits.
Resources for childcare providers and families
To address the need for child care in Wadena County, the Action Plan includes a directive to create additional child care programs that offer non-traditional hours for families working shift work or overnight, primarily for manufacturing and health care staff.
Other ways the RCCIP is building child care provider momentum in Wadena County include:
- Promoted Sourcewell’s onboarding program for new childcare providers. Sourcewell is an organization designed to deliver cooperative purchasing ability for community projects. One of its programs is Child Care Licensing Support, which offers family child care licensing services in Wadena County, as well as tools and resources to help parents find licensed home daycare or help providers maintain licensing requirements.
- Recognizing existing childcare providers. In 2021, Sourcewell recognized eight child care providers as their Providers of the Year, with Danielle Sworski receiving the award for Wadena County.
- Developed the Wadena County Child Care Providers Networking Group, a new Facebook page for area child care providers to network and seek assistance.
- Promoted the Sourcewell child care locator to assist families in finding child care providers near them.
The Economic Alliance exists to help local businesses and residents combat issues like available quality childcare that hinder their economic success. Reach out today to learn more about how the Economic Alliance can help you!