S1E4: Part 1: The Gothenburg Impact Center w. Nicole Hetz & Colten Venteicher
The Good Life in Early Life travels to Gothenburg to hear two community members’ accounts as the town identified the childcare gap and come together to find a solution. The Gothenburg Impact Center was born from one community’s efforts to pool their unique ideas and resources to meet multiple community needs with one building. https://www.gothenburgimpactcenter.com/
The following music was used for this media project:
Music: Afterparty Review by Sascha Ende
Free download: https://filmmusic.io/song/2962-afterparty-review
License (CC BY 4.0): https://filmmusic.io/standard-license
"Wholesome" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License
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[00:00:10.170]This is "The Good Life in Early Life,"
[00:00:12.750]a production of Nebraska Extension.
[00:00:14.970]I'm your host, Emily Manning,
[00:00:16.590]an Early Childhood Extension Educator in Seward County.
[00:00:19.560]For this episode, I traveled to Gothenburg, Nebraska,
[00:00:22.440]a community that has risen to the challenge
[00:00:24.570]of the childcare gap in a noteworthy way.
[00:00:27.120]Be prepared to laugh and possibly cry happy tears
[00:00:30.210]as the two guests share their heartwarming
[00:00:32.130]and inspiring accounts of their work
[00:00:33.930]on the Gothenburg Impact Center.
[00:00:35.970]Our first guest serves
[00:00:37.350]as the Gothenburg Early Childhood Learning Coalition
[00:00:40.080]community coordinator, a position she's held since 2019.
[00:00:43.680]In this role, she helps facilitate and advocate
[00:00:46.230]for quality early childhood experiences in the community.
[00:00:49.110]She works with parents to help them find care
[00:00:51.060]and education opportunities for their children,
[00:00:53.190]supports providers in their important work with children,
[00:00:55.590]and connects with the community
[00:00:57.000]to address ongoing capacity issues.
[00:00:59.400]She and her husband have lived in Gothenburg since 2016
[00:01:02.880]and have two teenage children.
[00:01:04.920]Welcome to the show, Nichole Hetz.
[00:01:07.890]Happy to have you here.
[00:01:09.300]Our second guest is an attorney in Gothenburg, Nebraska,
[00:01:12.480]who focuses on estate planning and probate,
[00:01:14.880]real estate, business and commercial law,
[00:01:17.280]and economic development.
[00:01:18.690]He's an active member of numerous community organizations
[00:01:21.660]involved in economic development efforts,
[00:01:23.820]including early childhood education, housing,
[00:01:26.280]and business recruitment and expansion.
[00:01:28.320]In recent years, he has led the effort in Gothenburg
[00:01:31.140]for the investment of nearly $15 million in housing
[00:01:34.800]and the construction of the Gothenburg Impact Center,
[00:01:37.680]a community facility
[00:01:38.790]that will provide a long-term, sustainable solution
[00:01:41.400]to childcare for local families.
[00:01:43.500]Welcome to the show, Colten Venteicher.
[00:01:45.960]Thanks. Happy to be here.
[00:01:47.310]Yeah, thanks for being here, both of you.
[00:01:49.530]So question that I like to ask my guests on my podcast is,
[00:01:53.670]what is a funny memory from your childhood about you
[00:01:57.330]or a favorite memory just in general from your childhood?
[00:02:00.690]I don't have the best memory from when I was a little kid,
[00:02:03.150]but I do remember,
[00:02:04.620]if I think about when I was young
[00:02:06.570]and particularly tied to, like, childcare pieces,
[00:02:09.900]I always think about my teachers,
[00:02:11.880]and that's just something that kind of builds on
[00:02:15.600]with this Impact Center discussion
[00:02:17.550]and everything we're doing here is
[00:02:19.500]those teachers have such a huge impact on us
[00:02:22.620]when we're young children,
[00:02:24.210]and here I am 33, you know, 25, 30 years down the road,
[00:02:28.800]I still see them on social media.
[00:02:31.260]Some of my classmates,
[00:02:32.730]one of my classmates from my preschool class
[00:02:34.710]now teaches with my preschool teacher,
[00:02:38.340]and so, I think, just the way
[00:02:40.200]that the world comes full circle with that piece
[00:02:42.360]is probably my favorite memory.
[00:02:45.120]What were some of the things
[00:02:46.110]that they did in their classroom
[00:02:48.390]that were really special to you
[00:02:50.370]that stands in your memory even now?
[00:02:52.260]It's difficult for me to understand this
[00:02:55.890]because I don't spend my days with children all the time,
[00:03:00.180]and there's a reason for that.
[00:03:02.040]The people that do that, they deserve a lot of credit,
[00:03:05.160]but I had teachers that,
[00:03:07.230]even though I had 40, 50, 60 kids
[00:03:09.960]in my age group in my class,
[00:03:11.880]made me feel like I was a focus of their efforts.
[00:03:16.140]They helped me overcome obstacles
[00:03:18.480]that I was individually dealing with,
[00:03:20.340]and I think that that is a skill
[00:03:23.430]that our teachers have that, like I said, I couldn't do
[00:03:26.940]because there are a lot of little kids
[00:03:28.890]that you're making a huge impact on.
[00:03:31.260]Yeah, so making you feel special
[00:03:34.590]even when you're a part of a group
[00:03:36.060]and giving you that individualized attention
[00:03:38.010]really just stood out to you
[00:03:39.510]and has made you feel cared for,
[00:03:42.360]and you remember that even now.
[00:03:45.270]That was beautiful. Thank you for sharing.
[00:03:47.970]I have nothing.
Yes, you do.
I can't compete with that.
[00:03:51.257]You should have gone first.
I should have gone first.
[00:03:55.530]Yeah, no, I think for me, my favorite memory,
[00:03:58.920]one of my favorite memories,
[00:04:00.390]when I think back to my childhood,
[00:04:01.680]I grew up in a small town.
[00:04:02.910]My grandparents lived on a farm a couple hours away,
[00:04:06.630]and so we only got to visit them a couple times a year,
[00:04:09.240]and so I think just the idea that freedom,
[00:04:11.940]that running in the yard or playing in the trees
[00:04:14.790]or playing in a barn was a novelty for this town girl,
[00:04:20.130]and so, you know,
[00:04:21.750]that was what came to mind when you asked the question.
[00:04:24.120]Yeah, having a different experience going to the farm
[00:04:27.840]and experiencing that freedom
[00:04:29.190]of being in the country surrounded by nature
[00:04:31.530]and the farm animals too, I'm guessing,
[00:04:34.020]or not at that time.
[00:04:35.310]Not many animals,
[00:04:37.050]which gave us free reign then to all the buildings.
[00:04:40.200]We didn't have to worry
[00:04:41.220]about letting any of the livestock out.
[00:04:43.080]We could just let our imaginations run wild
[00:04:45.720]with wherever we were.
[00:04:46.980]Yeah, love that. Perfect
[00:04:49.110]I think a lot of people in Nebraska could probably relate
[00:04:52.080]to that experience of going to grandpa and grandma's house
[00:04:54.240]and run around in the outside in the country.
[00:04:58.230]All right, so let's get into why we're here today
[00:05:01.320]to talk about this Impact Center that you are working on
[00:05:04.740]and helping build with the community.
[00:05:06.870]It's community effort.
[00:05:08.220]Tell me what it is
[00:05:10.260]for those people that don't know about it.
[00:05:12.420]Sure, so we called it the Impact Center.
[00:05:15.060]It's going to be a 40,000-square-foot building
[00:05:18.750]that will include four integrated services,
[00:05:21.300]so we'll have 17 classrooms for early learning,
[00:05:25.110]infant through preschool.
[00:05:26.910]At capacity, we'll be able to provide full-time care
[00:05:29.790]for 195 kids in the community.
[00:05:34.140]Along with that, we'll have a 400-person event center
[00:05:37.260]that'll be able to house receptions, community events,
[00:05:40.620]give the community a place to meet,
[00:05:42.810]to gather that we don't have right now.
[00:05:45.180]We also will have a healthy family center,
[00:05:47.490]and this'll be a consolidation of services in the community
[00:05:51.780]to really help support the wellbeing
[00:05:54.030]of all families in town,
[00:05:56.040]those who use the center and those who don't.
[00:05:58.530]Just one place that families can go looking for services
[00:06:01.710]or answers to questions
[00:06:03.690]and that will be in collaboration
[00:06:05.760]with our countywide Wellbeing Collaborative.
[00:06:08.430]The fourth piece will be a sports training center,
[00:06:11.040]and this will give space for our early learning children
[00:06:13.680]to run and play on days when they can't go outside
[00:06:16.770]because of the weather
[00:06:17.610]and then also for the local sports teams to use for practice
[00:06:21.510]on the evenings and the weekends.
[00:06:23.040]I love this because it just sounds like,
[00:06:25.230]so community-focused and it's hitting a need
[00:06:28.260]for what families and children need
[00:06:30.870]in so many different ways,
[00:06:31.950]and just one place, one location, that they can go
[00:06:34.440]to get all of these services, all of these facilities,
[00:06:37.890]which is amazing.
[00:06:39.030]That's very, very neat.
[00:06:41.010]Colten, did you wanna add onto that?
[00:06:42.960]Yeah, to build on Nichole's answer,
[00:06:46.110]I think if you were to summarize in a couple of words
[00:06:49.980]what we're doing with the Impact Center,
[00:06:51.720]it's a game changer.
[00:06:52.920]This is something where we sat down
[00:06:56.100]and initially it was okay, early childhood focused,
[00:06:59.190]but we had communication or conversations
[00:07:02.100]with our community members to figure out,
[00:07:04.110]okay, as a community project,
[00:07:06.030]what are the things we need to address?
[00:07:07.770]and that's why it's become something that's so much bigger.
[00:07:10.320]So, it's gonna be a game changer for Gothenburg
[00:07:12.960]because it's going to help us recruit individuals.
[00:07:16.500]It's gonna help us retain employees.
[00:07:18.450]We, to this scope,
[00:07:20.070]I believe will be the first community in the state
[00:07:22.410]to have something like this,
[00:07:23.670]and hopefully we can lead the way
[00:07:25.470]for other folks throughout the community
[00:07:27.150]and still support the efforts really statewide
[00:07:31.800]to keep our families,
[00:07:32.880]keep our children in the state of Nebraska,
[00:07:35.310]which is a huge goal for especially us rural communities.
[00:07:38.940]I think it's a goal for the state of Nebraska, truthfully,
[00:07:42.210]is to keep people here,
[00:07:43.380]and what can we do to retain them, yeah.
[00:07:45.870]So I'm really interested in, like, how did this idea start?
[00:07:49.080]How did you know that you needed this in your community?
[00:07:52.320]So we, about five years ago,
[00:07:55.740]that was when Nichole and I got involved with it
[00:07:58.170]but prior to that,
[00:07:59.190]we as a community knew that we had a need for preschool
[00:08:03.270]and so, really the first efforts tied to this
[00:08:05.670]were the public school system stepped in and said,
[00:08:08.707]"Okay, we're gonna add a public preschool program."
[00:08:13.200]Important for helping ensure that our kids,
[00:08:16.230]when they reach kindergarten, are prepared to start school
[00:08:18.990]but what that also did for a lot of us
[00:08:20.850]was it opened our eyes to the fact
[00:08:22.530]that we simply did not have options
[00:08:24.990]outside of the existing providers.
[00:08:27.330]So we did a study, took our census data,
[00:08:30.090]and compared that
[00:08:31.740]to the existing licensed providers in town.
[00:08:34.230]So we were able to tell that there were about 70 to 80 kids
[00:08:38.880]who come from families with all available parents working,
[00:08:42.120]which single-parent families
[00:08:44.070]or both parents in the workforce,
[00:08:45.630]which as a state, we are one of the leading states
[00:08:48.330]with parents in the workforce.
[00:08:50.550]We had about 70 to 80 kids
[00:08:52.050]that didn't have access to a licensed spot,
[00:08:54.780]and so what that really does
[00:08:56.280]is that is a hindrance on our businesses.
[00:08:58.800]It's a hindrance on our economy
[00:09:00.960]because we don't have people in the workforce.
[00:09:02.820]We don't have those people getting out there,
[00:09:04.620]and it's hurtful for those kids
[00:09:06.540]'cause they're not showing up to kindergarten prepared
[00:09:09.210]and ready to go.
[00:09:10.950]So we sat down with all of the existing providers in town
[00:09:15.420]and we said, "Are you at capacity?"
[00:09:17.280]and they told us, "Yes, we are."
[00:09:19.900]Okay, we already knew that.
Can't take anymore, please.
[00:09:22.647]But we also said, "Okay, can you get any bigger?
[00:09:26.100]I mean, can you build onto your space?
[00:09:27.960]Can you add rooms?"
[00:09:29.280]And they all came back and said,
[00:09:30.877]"No, we're in, you know, church extra space.
[00:09:33.990]We're in a 30-year-old building
[00:09:35.940]that needs a new heat pump," right?
[00:09:39.330]And so it became pretty apparent right out of the gate
[00:09:41.850]that if we were gonna address it
[00:09:43.230]and really create a long-term solution,
[00:09:45.720]that it would require us to put up a new facility.
[00:09:49.260]So like I said, that was about five years ago,
[00:09:52.230]and obviously the different iterations
[00:09:54.090]of what this facility looks like have changed
[00:09:56.700]throughout that time period,
[00:09:57.900]but we continue to have those significant problems.
[00:10:00.960]We have over 50 kids on the wait list
[00:10:03.540]for our two centers here in town.
[00:10:06.060]The next opening for an infant spot is August of 2024.
[00:10:11.130]So we have families-
[00:10:11.963]Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.
[00:10:13.860]Let's back up. You said August of 2024?
[00:10:17.370]That was not what I was expecting.
[00:10:19.200]I thought it was gonna be a fall of this year.
[00:10:22.380]And I have four kids, so I know how this process works.
[00:10:24.960]You have to do some planning there.
[00:10:27.450]We have people that are signing up for these spots
[00:10:29.760]before they're even pregnant.
[00:10:31.080]To me, obviously that's just, that's the biggest indicator
[00:10:34.530]that we have good young families that are in this community,
[00:10:38.160]they want to have children,
[00:10:39.240]but how do we attract families to our community
[00:10:42.570]if we don't have a place for them
[00:10:44.130]to take their kids when they're working?
[00:10:45.930]So that was the need,
[00:10:47.280]and this Impact Center piece
[00:10:48.840]is how we're hopefully gonna address it.
[00:10:50.547]And then, at the same time
[00:10:52.320]that we were having those conversations,
[00:10:54.120]the city was having a conversation
[00:10:55.860]about the need for a community event center,
[00:10:59.220]and so that then became part of the community conversation.
[00:11:02.970]Once we realized what we needed
[00:11:05.040]to address the childcare issue,
[00:11:06.990]then it became how this can become a community project,
[00:11:11.190]and that's part of how it grew beyond just the childcare
[00:11:15.330]to incorporating a lot of the other elements as well.
[00:11:18.983]So it was kind of happening at the same time
[00:11:21.000]where everyone was saying like,
[00:11:22.357]"We need this, we need this,
[00:11:24.420]why don't we come together and build it together?"
[00:11:27.390]is kind of what it sounds like.
[00:11:29.693]We're saving millions of dollars from a capital standpoint
[00:11:32.580]in terms of just putting the facility up.
[00:11:34.410]At the same time creating efficiencies
[00:11:36.540]with our contractor and whatnot,
[00:11:38.070]but we're also creating efficiencies
[00:11:39.690]when it comes to operations.
[00:11:41.070]So if the city was gonna operate
[00:11:43.050]an event center on their own,
[00:11:44.490]it's going to cost them well over $100,000 a year
[00:11:47.760]to put that on.
[00:11:48.840]Well, we looked at it and said,
[00:11:50.317]"We're gonna have a full-time facility operation
[00:11:53.430]already going on in this same location.
[00:11:56.460]Maybe we can share some employee roles and responsibilities
[00:11:59.820]and create some efficiency that way."
[00:12:01.850]So I'm thinking about like maintenance, custodial work,
[00:12:05.010]having that same kind of staff would cut down
[00:12:08.370]on some of those costs and make it more efficient.
[00:12:12.540]For those who may be interested,
[00:12:14.070]do you think you could share how you calculated the numbers
[00:12:16.590]you've been mentioning for this project?
[00:12:18.690]So it's a world that I was not prepared to dive into.
[00:12:23.160]I have a business background and deal with a lot of numbers,
[00:12:27.540]but the numbers related to childcare and just the operation
[00:12:31.800]of those types of facilities are extremely complex
[00:12:34.620]because you have private tuition rates,
[00:12:36.840]you have Public Title 20 Subsidy,
[00:12:39.420]you have food reimbursement rates.
[00:12:42.750]Obviously, we have to take all of that, combine it,
[00:12:45.720]figure out, okay, are we going to be
[00:12:47.280]at full capacity per classroom
[00:12:49.620]or are we gonna be short two kids?
[00:12:51.450]How does that impact our bottom line?
[00:12:53.430]And really, it all comes down to wages too,
[00:12:55.770]and really that's the reason why we have this issue
[00:12:58.230]in the state of Nebraska as a whole.
[00:13:00.780]We cannot charge our families what it actually costs us
[00:13:04.560]to pay people quality wages.
[00:13:07.440]So how do we address that?
[00:13:09.900]Well, what we did was we backed into it.
[00:13:12.150]We said, "Okay, if we're going to charge a certain rate,
[00:13:15.150]and that rate's gonna be affordable
[00:13:16.740]for everybody in our community,
[00:13:18.270]and we're going to pay our people livable wages,"
[00:13:21.240]which we can talk about.
[00:13:22.320]I know that's a fairly fluid term.
[00:13:25.230]We know there's gonna be a shortfall operationally,
[00:13:27.810]how do we fix that or how do we address it?
[00:13:31.020]So, like I said, we backed into it.
[00:13:32.280]We identified if we were to put this facility up,
[00:13:34.710]pay people 12 to $15 an hour,
[00:13:37.200]and not significantly increase their current rates,
[00:13:40.770]we are gonna have
[00:13:41.603]about a two to $300,000 operating shortfall.
[00:13:44.040]How do you come up with that money, right?
[00:13:46.740]Because we've already said we're not gonna pass it along
[00:13:48.540]to the families, right?
[00:13:50.100]So that's where our partnerships with the city,
[00:13:52.860]the school, and the hospital really were formed.
[00:13:55.260]We went to them and said, "You guys know this is important.
[00:13:59.880]You're already investing in childcare in some instances,
[00:14:02.610]can you help us out with that budget shortfall
[00:14:05.190]for the community?"
[00:14:06.420]And we got very positive responses from all those groups,
[00:14:09.630]to the point where the city's putting in $100,000 a year
[00:14:12.600]to help out with our operations.
[00:14:14.250]The school's putting in $175,000 a year.
[00:14:17.370]Now, mind you, they're already spending that
[00:14:19.230]on their current preschool program.
That's got 15 kids
[00:14:22.710]All we said was,
[00:14:23.947]"We'll take your 15 kids on,
[00:14:25.590]and instead of over $10,000 cost per pupil,
[00:14:28.590]you're gonna allocate that same money
[00:14:30.120]and you benefit 140 kids at $700 cost per pupil."
[00:14:34.680]So that was beneficial from that side.
[00:14:36.840]And then the hospital stepped in and they've hired people
[00:14:40.050]and had them quit two weeks later
[00:14:41.910]because they couldn't find childcare.
And so they said,
[00:14:45.847]"Yep, we know this is something we want to be a part of,"
[00:14:48.960]and they're the biggest employer in town.
[00:14:50.760]They employ about 180 people.
[00:14:52.860]They're gonna provide employer provided childcare
[00:14:55.260]to every employee in there facility.
[00:14:57.937]Oh, okay, so they're like buying spots, kind of?
[00:15:00.833]Is that how you would describe it, or?
[00:15:03.543]It's been a conversation on,
[00:15:05.190]okay, are they promised a certain amount of spots.
[00:15:07.440]We built enough capacity into this space
[00:15:09.540]that you don't have a dedicated spot,
[00:15:12.240]but they are a single full-time payor
[00:15:15.060]for all of those families that are coming in.
[00:15:17.310]So from our standpoint, operationally,
[00:15:19.650]it's gonna help us because we just bill them
[00:15:21.660]instead of having to go through individual people
[00:15:24.210]and waiting on bills to be paid and whatnot, so.
[00:15:27.717]And again, it benefits them
[00:15:28.980]because it's gonna be a huge recruitment tool.
[00:15:32.250]To know that you have that guaranteed childcare education
[00:15:36.540]right at their fingertips.
[00:15:38.100]So you said it's been five years,
[00:15:40.290]is that how long it's taken in total from beginning to end?
[00:15:44.280]So, like Colten said,
[00:15:45.810]this conversation has been going on in the community
[00:15:48.420]for well over 10 years.
[00:15:50.550]He and I both got involved in this process
[00:15:53.160]about five years ago, and that's when the numbers,
[00:15:55.710]we really got our numbers and we knew that gap of 70 kids.
[00:15:59.400]And that was then
[00:16:00.690]when the Gothenburg Early Childhood Learning Coalition Board
[00:16:04.020]looked at the numbers and said,
[00:16:05.317]"It's up to us to make a plan
[00:16:07.500]on how to get those kids into licensed spots."
[00:16:11.070]So looking at the numbers,
[00:16:12.180]the board realized that really is another center,
[00:16:15.330]that's the size of another center.
[00:16:18.480]And so that's when the conversation
[00:16:20.400]about needing to build something really started.
[00:16:23.430]You know, like Colten said,
[00:16:24.720]we went through several steps to figure out what it was
[00:16:28.800]that the community wanted us to build,
[00:16:31.590]and met with providers the first time
[00:16:35.100]to find out what capacity was.
[00:16:36.510]Met with providers the second time then to say,
[00:16:38.827]"Okay, we're ready to move forward with plans to build
[00:16:42.060]Do you wanna be part of it?"
[00:16:44.310]And that really gave us then
[00:16:45.900]the number we were working with.
[00:16:47.520]We knew what our total capacity needed to be,
[00:16:50.730]and so that all took time.
[00:16:52.770]And then we spent a year really trying to get a handle
[00:16:57.390]on that operating budget piece.
[00:16:59.100]More than just,
[00:17:00.187]"Can we build the building, but can we operate it?
[00:17:03.000]Can we make it efficient?
[00:17:04.020]Can we make it really something
[00:17:05.760]that will serve the community
[00:17:07.950]and not take from the community?"
[00:17:09.330]And so that took us a good part of 2020.
[00:17:12.930]At the same time then
[00:17:14.340]we were working with an architect to figure out,
[00:17:16.740]if we have this many kids,
[00:17:18.390]what does our building need to look like?
[00:17:20.460]What size are we talking?
[00:17:22.260]Worked through the programming and the building.
[00:17:25.260]We started fundraising then early 2021,
[00:17:29.850]so we've been at that for well over two years,
[00:17:33.000]and then kept working on the building plan.
[00:17:34.980]We were able to get that finalized
[00:17:36.750]and really ready to go summer of '22.
[00:17:39.960]So it's been a process fairly in depth
[00:17:43.110]for the last five years,
[00:17:44.490]but we feel good about where we are
[00:17:46.320]because we've spent a lot of time on the foundational work.
[00:17:49.200]We've asked every question we could think of
[00:17:52.110]so that when we get the questions,
[00:17:54.210]we've got answers to the community,
[00:17:56.640]and really have put in that due diligence
[00:17:59.040]to know where we're going
[00:18:01.230]and why it's the best way for the community to go.
[00:18:05.340]So I hear both of you talking about this,
[00:18:07.770]and how important was it to involve, like, the providers,
[00:18:10.920]to involve the school, to involve all these people?
[00:18:13.530]I mean, every person that you add into it just makes it,
[00:18:16.650]can make it more complicated.
[00:18:17.970]It sounds like that was important to you
[00:18:19.770]as you were moving forward.
[00:18:21.090]You wanna talk a little bit about that?
[00:18:23.010]Yeah, I would say, how long did this take to put together?
[00:18:26.040]It's taken just the right amount of time
[00:18:28.380]because we took every step that was necessary
[00:18:33.090]to bring people on board.
[00:18:34.320]When we started having those conversations with providers,
[00:18:36.840]like I said, five years ago, on are you at capacity,
[00:18:40.140]can you get any bigger?
[00:18:41.430]That was all of our providers.
[00:18:43.602]This Impact Center will bring some of them into the fold,
[00:18:47.280]the ones that wanted to,
[00:18:48.900]but we still sat down with some of the folks
[00:18:50.850]that we knew from the very beginning.
[00:18:52.590]They had no desire to become a part of this,
[00:18:55.380]and there were some that were not too pleased
[00:18:58.200]that we were gonna be bringing about competition.
But it took,
[00:19:02.700]it took having those conversations
[00:19:04.650]and bringing them into the fold,
[00:19:06.840]developing that trust between us and them,
[00:19:10.140]so that they understood,
[00:19:11.220]okay, we really are trying to do this
[00:19:13.530]for the betterment of the community.
[00:19:16.050]Nobody's getting run out of town.
[00:19:17.850]We're still going to support each other.
[00:19:19.530]We're all gonna work together.
[00:19:21.653]when you talk about the broader scope of the project,
[00:19:23.670]that's also why it was important
[00:19:25.560]to bring in the community too.
[00:19:27.000]This is a community facility,
[00:19:29.070]and if you don't incorporate the opinions, the beliefs,
[00:19:33.300]even though it makes things a hundred times more complex
[00:19:37.200]of all those community members,
[00:19:38.850]then you're not building a community facility,
[00:19:41.970]so it certainly made it take longer.
[00:19:44.520]It certainly expanded the scope,
[00:19:46.260]but what we are getting is what our community wants.
[00:19:49.380]Yes, so you're putting in that work
[00:19:51.270]to make sure that this project, this Impact Center,
[00:19:54.450]will be successful for the community
[00:19:56.340]because it's had the input of everybody in the community.
[00:19:59.280]And also bouncing on what you said, Nichole,
[00:20:01.380]it's going to be self-sufficient, it's gonna be sustainable,
[00:20:04.770]it's gonna be here,
[00:20:05.703]it's gonna be able to stay for a long time.
[00:20:08.190]Yep, we could raise, to be honest,
[00:20:10.071]enough capital to put up however big of a facility we needed
[00:20:14.370]and it's already, you know, pretty big,
[00:20:16.080]but what we needed to do from the gate was make sure
[00:20:18.960]we could keep the lights on 10 years from now
[00:20:21.060]because nobody wants to see an empty building
[00:20:23.700]that they spent a lot of money to put up,
[00:20:25.410]so that was, like Nichole said, our biggest piece
[00:20:28.680]before we really even started talking capital campaign.
[00:20:31.590]Not only because we wanted to make sure we had a plan,
[00:20:34.080]but also we needed to answer those questions to our donors.
[00:20:37.140]They wanted to make sure,
[00:20:38.347]"Okay, if I'm gonna give money to something,
[00:20:40.440]this is gonna actually be that solution."
[00:20:42.270]Yes, so this is a lot. This is a lot.
[00:20:45.930]You're telling me.
Yeah, I'm sure.
[00:20:48.124]Yeah, I'm sure you don't need to hear that from me,
[00:20:49.590]but I can tell that it has a lot of complexity
[00:20:53.040]and you can't do this alone.
[00:20:54.300]This is definitely community efforts,
[00:20:56.280]but when you involve a lot of people,
[00:20:58.110]as we've said, it's complex.
[00:21:00.210]How do you organize, how do you structure this work?
[00:21:02.880]How do you divide out this responsibilities
[00:21:04.950]to make this actually happen?
[00:21:06.750]Well, the GECLC board of directors
[00:21:09.360]really helped give the direction.
[00:21:11.160]Like I said, they're the ones who looked at the numbers
[00:21:13.230]and said, "We need to build to fix this problem."
[00:21:16.560]And so they cast the vision
[00:21:18.480]and really help kind of point us towards the solution,
[00:21:22.620]the direction we needed to go.
[00:21:25.200]they recognized that the board was made up of volunteers,
[00:21:29.970]professionals in the community who all have full-time jobs,
[00:21:33.480]and so it became necessary
[00:21:35.580]to have someone who could devote some time,
[00:21:39.090]some attention to the process, and so that's where-
[00:21:42.150]We found a Nichole is what we did.
[00:21:45.912]So we needed somebody to help us get things done.
[00:21:48.240]I mean, we were all volunteers,
[00:21:49.740]and Nichole was on the board,
[00:21:51.570]but a few of us kind of knew, okay,
[00:21:54.270]Nichole would really be the person
[00:21:56.220]who could help actually drive this forward.
[00:21:58.080]And so we hired her as the full-time community coordinator
[00:22:01.200]in, was it 2019?
[00:22:04.260]we'd still be talking about this as a concept
[00:22:06.750]if we didn't have a Nichole who could help us get things
[00:22:10.680]through the finish line, so.
[00:22:12.150]I interrupted you, but-
[00:22:13.350]That's quite all right.
[00:22:14.963]Because I was dancing around,
[00:22:16.740]I couldn't do my job without a Colten
[00:22:19.680]because he understands the business side of it,
[00:22:22.980]and so he has really,
[00:22:24.990]he's donated so much of his time
[00:22:26.790]to the business side of the project,
[00:22:28.350]the incorporation and organization of the entities
[00:22:32.970]that we've had to put together
[00:22:35.280]to make this the project it is.
[00:22:38.040]The negotiation of the contracts,
[00:22:40.110]working with the construction details,
[00:22:42.450]leading the fundraising effort,
[00:22:44.430]like, seeing the big picture
[00:22:46.410]and knowing the pieces that need to go together,
[00:22:49.230]the economic development piece of it,
[00:22:51.300]that has all been huge in kind of steering the ship,
[00:22:55.350]and really, I'm just in the back,
[00:22:57.090]pedaling like crazy to keep the ship moving forward,
[00:22:59.670]but having somebody who understands the complexities
[00:23:03.270]of the business side
[00:23:05.250]and can really pull all that together
[00:23:07.230]has been incredibly important.
[00:23:09.450]So having that, and then the coordinator
[00:23:12.630]really being able to do the in-house production
[00:23:15.150]of the campaign materials,
[00:23:16.500]the social media, the website presence,
[00:23:18.960]the tracking of the donations,
[00:23:20.460]the keeping everything organized,
[00:23:22.350]you know, really that's kind of how our division
[00:23:24.960]of responsibilities has fallen.
[00:23:27.000]We did have a project committee made up of community members
[00:23:31.020]that helped with the design and the final building plan,
[00:23:33.930]and so had input from stakeholders
[00:23:36.960]on how the building finally came together.
[00:23:40.050]So we've got volunteers
[00:23:42.270]on top of the two of us in the board.
[00:23:45.030]Yeah, there's a difficult balance, I think,
[00:23:47.520]between gotta have the people
[00:23:49.050]who are gonna get things done, right?
[00:23:51.630]But they can't be the ones making every decision,
[00:23:54.600]and so I think, as a community,
[00:23:56.670]we've done a really good job
[00:23:58.080]of pulling those committees together.
[00:24:00.450]Like Nichole said, you have GECLC,
[00:24:02.640]that's the board of directors
[00:24:04.088]of that nonprofit who kind of started this,
[00:24:06.087]and we put a project committee together.
[00:24:08.520]We have the steering committee.
[00:24:09.870]Now we have a board of directors
[00:24:11.610]for this actual operating entity, the Impact Center,
[00:24:14.400]and they're going to finalize really the budget
[00:24:17.130]and the policies based on current rates
[00:24:19.950]and all those pieces.
[00:24:21.120]So again, it's a delicate balance
[00:24:24.270]between Nichole and I trying to move things forward
[00:24:27.630]and annoying people to raise money
[00:24:30.180]and to sign off on this or that,
[00:24:32.280]but also ensuring
[00:24:33.210]that you have those stakeholders providing that input.
[00:24:36.570]Kind of like a balance between, like, the business side,
[00:24:38.940]the early childhood side,
[00:24:40.080]and then also the community to make those decisions,
[00:24:43.350]those stakeholders can make those decisions together,
[00:24:45.720]so really pulling on everyone's strengths,
[00:24:47.880]and you couldn't do that without kind of all of those parts,
[00:24:51.120]those big parts.
Yeah, I would say,
[00:24:53.963]because we've been a part of a lot
[00:24:55.560]of these discussions with other communities,
[00:24:57.930]and they're really trying
[00:24:58.830]to find the solution to childcare, right?
[00:25:02.126]One thing that I think we realized pretty early on was,
[00:25:05.880]even though they bring a lot to the table,
[00:25:08.310]sometimes those early childhood providers
[00:25:10.800]are not their best advocates
[00:25:12.630]when it comes to moving this piece forward.
[00:25:15.450]They live in a different world
[00:25:16.800]than our business community-
Yes, they do.
[00:25:18.240]our elected officials.
[00:25:19.440]And so that's where I saw myself having some value
[00:25:23.310]to pushing this forward was,
[00:25:25.020]I don't live in the early childhood world. I don't want to.
[00:25:27.240]I love my four kids,
[00:25:28.500]but my wife does a fantastic job
[00:25:31.710]of taking care of them during the day,
[00:25:33.480]so I can be, I can be at work.
[00:25:36.270]And it's kind of the same thing.
[00:25:37.830]We have this business community
[00:25:39.360]that understands there's a need,
[00:25:40.890]but they speak a different language
[00:25:42.810]than our early childhood providers.
[00:25:44.340]So we found a way, I think, through me,
[00:25:46.800]at least with the business piece,
[00:25:48.000]to communicate to those individuals
[00:25:49.800]that brought them on as partners ultimately.
[00:25:52.260]I'm really interested in that because I'm seeing that,
[00:25:55.020]but how do you make those two worlds talk to each other?
[00:25:57.360]How do you find that common language?
[00:25:58.740]What have you found that works to bridge the gap?
[00:26:02.220]We broke it down, I would say, into two approaches.
[00:26:05.640]One was the science, and that is the importance of,
[00:26:12.180]okay, this is how our kids are going to benefit
[00:26:15.390]if they receive high quality early childhood care
[00:26:19.223]That still resonates with our businesses, right?
[00:26:21.030]We all wanna see our kids grow up to be successful.
[00:26:23.250]But as a business person, you look to data, right?
[00:26:26.610]You want to see those statistics,
[00:26:28.170]and there's plenty of that information out there.
[00:26:30.390]It just needs to be presented in a way
[00:26:32.970]that those folks will receive it.
[00:26:35.310]The second piece is the economic side, so it's not just,
[00:26:38.550]okay, financially, how would we make this thing work?
[00:26:41.520]But how is this impacting you as a business?
[00:26:44.730]We did a survey as a community and asked the respondents,
[00:26:48.540]we asked the employees, and the employers,
[00:26:51.247]"How has a lack of childcare impacted your ability
[00:26:54.270]to attend work, to work in a quality manner?
[00:26:57.060]How has your employees lack of access to childcare
[00:27:00.810]negatively impacted your business?"
[00:27:02.970]We were then able to turn around and show them that,
[00:27:05.167]"Hey, this is the most significant, even above housing,
[00:27:08.730]this is the most significant drawback
[00:27:10.890]to your business right now."
[00:27:12.390]Yes, we all need to have houses too, right?
[00:27:15.300]We can't recruit people to our communities
[00:27:17.340]if they don't have a place to live,
[00:27:18.550]and we don't have a place for them to take their kids,
[00:27:20.700]but I do think that traditionally
[00:27:22.860]childcare has not been viewed
[00:27:24.810]as something that's been important,
[00:27:26.610]but taking those responses
[00:27:28.170]from those business owners themselves and their employees
[00:27:31.230]and giving it back to them,
[00:27:32.700]I think, helped open a lot of eyes to the need.
[00:27:35.040]Yeah, because it was in their own work.
[00:27:37.077]And it's built from there.
[00:27:38.310]I mean, we've seen businesses
[00:27:39.750]start to provide childcare stipends to their employees
[00:27:42.660]to help make those payments
[00:27:43.920]because they want those employees
[00:27:45.750]to be in the office, right?
[00:27:47.520]It's helped get our business community
[00:27:49.140]involved with our capital campaign.
[00:27:51.120]They know that this will help
[00:27:52.530]provide them more stability as a business,
[00:27:54.570]and so that initial approach,
[00:27:56.850]again using data, using the science, helped open the door.
[00:28:00.630]And these are smart people.
[00:28:01.740]These are small business centers, right?
[00:28:04.572]They are very successful individuals in their own right.
[00:28:07.230]They just needed,
[00:28:08.063]we needed to find a way to break that ice initially,
[00:28:10.350]and that's how we did it.
[00:28:11.340]Go ahead, Nichole, you looked like you wanted to add on.
[00:28:13.140]And I think part of it too is giving these people a voice.
[00:28:17.550]My husband is a manager at a business here in town,
[00:28:20.550]and he's lost several high quality employees
[00:28:23.760]because they haven't been able to find childcare,
[00:28:26.190]and so I think when you have those conversations
[00:28:28.320]with the businesses and say,
[00:28:30.097]"We know this is a problem for you,
[00:28:32.040]and we want to help solve it for you,"
[00:28:35.490]then it creates that partnership because they're saying,
[00:28:38.227]"I know it's a problem.
[00:28:39.270]It's negatively affecting my business,
[00:28:41.610]but I don't know how to fix it.
[00:28:43.050]If you are saying you can help me,
[00:28:45.840]then I want to support you."
[00:28:47.910]And it creates that circle,
[00:28:49.770]and it's given us a lot of support in the business community
[00:28:52.980]without them having to understand the ins and the outs,
[00:28:56.190]the jargon, the vocabulary.
[00:28:58.230]They just know there's somebody
[00:28:59.550]who's working on their behalf to fix this problem.
[00:29:02.070]And someone that they can trust to do it right.
[00:29:04.823](bright upbeat music)
[00:29:07.110]We are gonna stop right here, listeners, for this episode,
[00:29:10.980]but we will continue to explore the Gothenburg Impact Center
[00:29:14.580]with Colten and Nichole in our next episode.
[00:29:17.010]Some things we're gonna cover include
[00:29:18.780]how the project is being funded,
[00:29:20.520]the economic model of early childhood,
[00:29:22.950]and advice for other communities
[00:29:24.510]who are also experiencing a childcare gap.
[00:29:27.030]So stay tuned, look out for our next episode to drop
[00:29:30.420]if you are interested in this topic
[00:29:32.100]and hearing more from Colten and Nichole.
[00:29:35.460]This has been an episode of "The Good Life in Early Life,"
[00:29:39.000]a Nebraska Extension Early Childhood production
[00:29:41.640]with your host Emily Manning.
[00:29:43.050]For more information on early childhood,
[00:29:44.790]check out our website at child.unl.edu.
[00:29:47.760]If you like the show,
[00:29:48.720]subscribe and tell your friends to listen.
[00:29:50.670]The podcast show production team is Emily Manning,
[00:29:53.460]Dr. Holly Hatton, Ingrid Lindall, Erin Kampbell,
[00:29:57.060]Linda Reddish, Kim Wellsandt, and Katie Krause.
[00:29:59.940]See you next time, and thanks for listening
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