Access to childcare in Cowley County is a challenge that comes up often in local conversations. Vickie Hizar, owner of Sunshine Daycare, is hoping to alleviate that challenge for a few more families in Cowley County.
The daycare, at 19789 81st Road just south of Winfield, is licensed for 79 spots and but has 40 on its waiting.
“I have wanted to expand to 100 for a long time, and this is a good time,” Hizar said.
The day care will expand by about 1,800 square feet at the front of the building to accommodate the increased enrollment.
The expansion will include a large classroom for school aged kids, a staff room and storage. Preliminary work on the expansion began Tuesday, Hizar said. Construction is expected to begin the second week of August.
Community National Bank, in partnership with Cowley First and their E-Community Loan fund, is working with Hizar and Sunshine Daycare to make the project a reality.
The daycare is getting a $110,000 loan from the bank and $41,000 E-Community loan.
“Community National Bank is always looking to partner with local enterprises that are giving back to or enhancing the communities in which we do business,” said Kevin Lowe, senior vie president. “With Sunshine Day Care, we feel that they are helping fill a void in our community.”
Hizar said E-Community, Cowley First and CNB have been great assets for Sunshine Day Care’s funding needs and help with financial advice.
In fact, this is the third time Hizar has received help from the E-Community Fund and CNB, she said. When Hizar purchased the building, E-Community provided a loan matching the bank’s. When the daycare moved into a new building, E-Community provided another loan. And with the expansion, E-Community is providing a third, small loan.
The E-Community program was created as part of Network Kansas through the Kansas Center for Entrepreneurship. Cowley First established the Cowley County E-Community Loan Fund 10 years ago to work with businesses and lenders close to closing a deal but needing an injection of gap financing.
Cowley First also works with the business or entrepreneur to develop a business plan and financial projects if they are just getting started. The E-Community program provides loans to for-profit businesses — up to $45,000 or 60 percent of the cost of the project, Falletti said.
The E-Community program is not as well known as it should be, she said, so Cowley First is glad to get the word out. The program was set up statewide but is locally managed and administered, Falletti said.
Hizar said having access to funding that goes to for-profits has made a big difference in her ability to grow her business.
“I am so happy we have them to go to,” she said. “For-profits don’t get help very often, and we spend every dime that comes in” to make the business better.
The expansion also includes adding a pre-made above-ground storm shelter, which has already been set in place at the center.
Hizar has applied for a grant from the USDA’s Community Facilities fund, but there is currently no money available, so she took out a loan to get the storm shelter in.
Falletti said she thinks the funding will come through and encouraged others needed shelters to look into it.
For more information about the E-Community Loan Fund or starting or growing a business in Cowley County, contact Kerri Falletti at Cowley First, firstname.lastname@example.org, or (620) 221-9951 or (620) 442-3492.