Name, public funding campaign announced for new Dyersville child care center

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DYERSVILLE, Iowa — Dyersville leaders announced the name of a child care center coming to the community as funds continue being raised for the project.

Project officials and community members gathered on Thursday morning for a press conference at the future site of a new child care center at 20 West Industrial Park, where they announced the public phase of a fundraising campaign for the facility.

“There’s many exciting things going on out here (in 20 West Industrial Park),” Steve Salter, Dyersville Economic Development Corp. board of directors president, said at the event.

Officials also announced that the facility will be named Michael and Jean Knepper Child Care Center. The Kneppers, of Dyersville, donated a “seven-figure number” to the project, said David Schroeder, the project’s campaign chair and a Dyersville Economic Development Corp. board member.

“I was happy to donate to such a wonderful project in Dyersville,” said Michael Knepper. “I can’t even talk, I’m so happy.”

Schroeder said the facility will encompass 17,560 square feet and be licensed for up to 250 children.

However, he said officials expect the “practical” capacity to be around 185 kids, which is double the slots for child care currently available in the community.

The center also will include 13 classrooms, a multipurpose room, a playground and green space.

“We are developing a first-class facility to provide quality care for our kids,” Schroeder said. “… This is for the Dyersville area, but not necessarily just the Dyersville community. We anticipate kids from all around will come here.”

Community leaders began discussing the need for a new child care center last year, Schroeder said, with many local employers talking about the need for child care in order to recruit workforce.

In September, economic development nonprofit Dyersville Industries was announced as the recipient of a $1.75 million state grant funded with federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars to build a child care center.

Additional funds have been raised for the center since then, and officials now have a total of $4.5 million. Schroeder said that’s about $1 million short of their goal, as project officials expect the center to cost $5 million to $6 million.

“But we haven’t made this (campaign) public yet,” he added. “We think the community will easily be able to raise this.”

Schroeder said going into the project without any debt will allow the center to operate at an affordable price to parents.

The new center will be run by the Kid Project, which has operated a nonprofit child care center in Dyersville for years. Sheila Tegeler, Dyersville Area Community Foundation board chair, said the foundation opened the Kid Project in 1994 after seeing a need for child care in the community.

“We are overwhelmed by the community support to expand child care for Dyersville and the surrounding communities,” she said of the new center. “We understand the great need for child care services. Workforce development cannot happen without child care for our kids.”