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Hillsboro development group buys former day care center

HILLSBORO -- Economic leaders in Hillsboro hope a $147,000 deal for a former day care building will be an investment for the future of child care and the growth of the city.

HILLSBORO -- Economic leaders in Hillsboro hope a $147,000 deal for a former day care building will be an investment for the future of child care and the growth of the city.

The Hillsboro Economic Development Corp.’s purchase of the Main Discovery Creative Education Center could be finalized as early as next week, EDC President Rob Owens told the Herald Thursday. The building would house Fargo-based Tot Spot Childcare and Learning Centers, which could open its Hillsboro branch by Aug. 28.

“We are lacking in day care in the city of Hillsboro,” he said, adding the EDC bought the building to provide adequate child care services. “Hopefully, this will be the catalyst that brings even more population to Hillsboro.”

Hillsboro has struggled in the past to find enough providers to offer day care, especially since Main Discovery, a community day care center, closed Sept. 30.

Private individuals have offered care services out of their homes, but even those are beginning to dwindle, Owens said. One in-home facility recently closed, worsening the situation for parents who are scrambling to find spots for their children.

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Other options available to parents include Mayville State University’s Child Development Program, which has a facility in Hillsboro.

More families are finding the small-town life in Hillsboro attractive, Owens said, adding they appreciate amenities such as a swimming pool, playing in neighborhoods without having to worry about the safety of children and close, friendly neighbors.

With that comes growing problems, such as finding day care providers. That could increase as school starts since older siblings who typically watch younger brothers and sisters will soon be in class.

Parents have been forced to look to other cities for child care, with some traveling to Grand Forks and Fargo. That took not only business out the city but also dimmed the chances of the community growing.

“We would be running the risk, if we didn’t address the problem, that we would start losing families to Fargo,” he said.

Leaders in Hillsboro actively tried to recruit day care services to the area.

That’s where Tot Spot comes in. The day care service has several facilities in the Fargo-Moorhead area, making Hillsboro its first branch outside the metro area.

Tot Spot thought it would be a great opportunity to branch out of Fargo, especially to a town that has a high need for child care services, Tot Spot Executive Director Jenna Schultz said.

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“They worked really closely with us to get us there,” she said.

Owens expects the building could serve up to 60 children, but Tot Spot already is taking names of families who want bring their children to the day care service.

“I enrolled 19 kids in an hour and a half (Thursday) night,” Schultz said, adding that was the first wave. “I have a feeling it is going to be a full school before we know it.”

The plan is for Tot Spot to stay in the Main Discovery building until the business builds its own facility in Hillsboro. Schultz said that could take 12 to 18 months.

After Tot Spot moves into its new facility, the EDC then will look for another child care provider to fill Main Discovery, Owens said. It also could be used for office space and to house other companies and start-ups in an effort to attract businesses to the city.

Providing enough day care is key to helping Hillsboro grow, Owens said, adding the city has potential.

“If Hillsboro ever wants to get any bigger, if we want to attract businesses that are going to bring families in, we have to have adequate day care to facilitate that movement from a sleepy town between Fargo and Grand Forks,” he said.

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