LAKE CRYSTAL, Minn. (KEYC) - About a year ago, Little Lakers Early Learning Center learned there is a gap of about 100 children in the area without child care. Around that same time, Crystal Valley Cooperative began thinking of renovating or moving their office outside of Lake Crystal.
“We went through a pretty extensive process of looking for a building and as we were coming to the end and thinking we were going to be able to have to build a building, the Crystal Valley announced that they were thinking about moving so when we looked at that, it looked like a good partnership as a way to be able to have a building for our program,” Little Lakers Learning Center Board Chair Linda Leiding said.
“We found a place that would for our new home and we think that this place could really serve them well and provide them maybe greater opportunities than them building from scratch,” Crystal Valley Cooperative CEO and GM Roger Kienholz added.
With that, Crystal Valley's office headquarters will move to Eide Bailly in Mankato in November.
Renovations for Little Lakers will begin in January, with doors expected to open in the spring. The center will serve 84 children, ranging in age from six weeks to pre-k.
“We had over 30 people contacted us and wanted to be on the waitlist before we even really formally announced our opening and so we know the need is there,” Little Lakers Learning Center Board Member Tom Farrell said.
“We have representation from a lot of the different sectors of our community. It’s a partnership between the school, it’s a partnership between the city we have the rec center involved in that and we have some local business people that are all involved in our project and we’ve also worked with in-home providers to make sure that we’re not duplicating or taking any business away from anybody, that we have business for everybody in the area,” Leiding added.
While the main office staff will be moving to Mankato, Crystal Valley is not leaving the area.
“We have agronomy operations here in Lake Crystal, we have energy operations which is refined fuels, gasoline, diesel, propane plus seasonal grain operation so all that will maintain here, our customers, patrons will still be able to come to the office here and pay their bills look up and discuss their accounts if necessary. So we will still have a very strong operational presence here,” Kienholz said.
Little Lakers has begun fundraising to cover the start-up costs, including the remodeling process and curriculum.
They are also accepting families on the waitlist.