HUTCHINSON, Minn. — Rochelle Merkins has opened a home-based child care in rural Hutchinson with financial assistance from Southwest Initiative Foundation’s (SWIF) Bright Beginnings loan program. This is a return to a beloved career for the mother of five; Merkins previously operated a home-based child care from 2005 to 2013.
After her own children started school full time, Merkins began work as a real estate agent with Edina Realty. But she missed having kids around.
“I loved doing day care,” Merkins said. When she and her husband purchased a hobby farm outside Hutchinson in early 2016, the large home and spacious yard were well suited for lots of kids. SWIF provided financing to purchase equipment and supplies, as well as provide working capital for inspections, licensing and some improvements needed in the child care area of the Merkins’ home.
“SWIF is very happy to assist Rochelle in opening her child care business, which will fill a critical need in the Hutchinson community while meeting our goal of increasing availability of child care in the region,” said SWIF Program Officer Jackie Turner.
Incorporating the work of both SWIF’s Microenterprise Loan and Early Childhood Initiative programs, Bright Beginnings addresses the business aspect of child care. The goal is to add providers and support working families, because everyone from families to employers are impacted by the child care shortage in rural Minnesota.
Loans up to $15,000 are available, and funds can be used for expenses related to licensing, curriculum, playground equipment, educational toys and materials, repairs, renovations or upgrades, code requirements and start-up or expansion expenses.
Loan programs have been a key function of SWIF since its inception to support communities and businesses throughout southwest Minnesota. In 2001, microlending was added to existing programs as a tool to support small businesses and people looking for self-employment opportunities by providing market-rate loans.
Microloan clients receive free technical assistance from SWIF staff — who all have personal business experience — to improve their business management skills. Areas of support include business planning and reading financials, QuickBooks training, marketing assistance and other training opportunities for the life of the loan.
This microloan program receives funding assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture. For more information, contact SWIF at 800-594-9480, 320-587-4848 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Southwest Initiative Foundation
Southwest Initiative Foundation is an independent community foundation supported by individuals, families, businesses, and organizations who want to strengthen southwest Minnesota. Since its founding in 1986, SWIF has contributed more than $75 million through its grant and loan programs. Its business finance programs have helped start or expand more than 700 businesses, which have created or retained more than 8,600 jobs. SWIF has also established 26 community affiliates and more than 100 school, donor-advised and other funds, as well as 16 Early Childhood Initiative coalitions to support young children. SWIF has received 1,730 acres of farmland through our Keep It Growing℠ farmland giving program. In 2016, SWIF launched the Grow Our Own Initiative to align its work and ensure all southwest Minnesota kids have the best start to life. The Southwest Initiative Foundation is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To learn more, visit www.swifoundation.org.
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