The City of Sleepy Eye met with local business people on July 2 to gather input on the issue of child care availability in Sleepy Eye.

After a discussion with local child care providers on June 18, the City of Sleepy Eye held another discussion on July 2 — this time with local business people. Both meetings were an attempt to gather input on the issue of child care availability in Sleepy Eye, along with what role the city should have in solutions.

In attendance at the July 2 meeting were three representatives of the EDA, six people representing the city council, about a dozen business people, three representatives of the chamber board, three representatives of Little Sprouts Learning Center, Amber English with Families First of Minnesota, and a staff person from Representative Jim Hagedorn’s Mankato office.

EDA Coordinator Kurk Kramer opened the meeting with a bit of wisdom he’s heard at economic development workshops for quite some time — “the cogs on the economic development wheel are housing, child care and workforce.”

“First of all,” said Kramer, “is there anybody here who says child care in Sleepy Eye is not a problem?” Not a person raised their hand.

Solutions to the problem, and comments on whether local businesses could be part of a solution, were not so easy to elicit. Perhaps many of the business people in attendance came to listen and then take what they heard back to their colleagues to discuss.

Julie Anderson, of Mathiowetz Construction, commented that it would be difficult to use company resources to help with child care in Sleepy Eye, when their employees live in many different communities—which also experience child care problems. It was agreed that other large employers likely have the same concern.

English, of Families First, said the agency has information on financial assistance for in-home child care businesses and information on getting started. “But providers need to apply,” she said.

The meeting ended with the understanding that the discussion was not over.