The city of Arkadelphia has two reasons to celebrate. For one, it’s the site of the state’s first 24-hour daycare center, and secondly because the future facility is bringing dozens of jobs to town.

Gov. Mike Beebe was the special guest at today’s grand opening of Clark County Child Care Inc., which was built by Southern Bancorp Community Development Corporation (SBCDC) on land leased from the Clark County Industrial Park.

Governor Beebe cut the ribbon on the 7,560-square foot center, which is the state’s first 24-hour-a day, seven-day-a-week child care center. Clark County Child Care at full capacity will create up to 46 new jobs.

The center also will make it easier for parents to work night and weekend shifts; improve the school readiness of Clark County youth through utilization of the national School of the 21st Century curriculum; and create an attractive community resource that will help recruit more business and industries to Clark County.

Clark County Child Care also addresses a key need identified in the Clark County Strategic Plan, a public-private, comprehensive community development initiative developed by more than 500 Clark County residents during an 18-month planning process and formally announced in October 2007. Construction and operation of Clark County Child Care follows the public-private partnership model outlined in the Clark County Strategic Plan.

Construction of the center was funded through a $690,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Community Services. Southern Bancorp Capital Partners will provide a start-up business loan of up to $300,000.

Clark County Child Care will fulfill a clear need for quality child care in Clark County. Many of the existing child care centers in the county are at full capacity. There is a particular need for child care for Clark County residents working night and weekend shifts—specifically the 1,900 employees working in the major industrial businesses within Clark County.

Before Clark County Child Care opened, there were no child care providers that provided night or weekend services, and there was no child care center located near the Industrial Park, which is located on U.S. 67 about 5 miles south of Arkadelphia.

“By providing convenient child care to Clark County’s industrial employees, this project will create benefits for employers and employees alike,” said Dr. Wesley Kluck, Co-Chair of the Clark County Strategic Plan Steering Committee. “Employees will be able to provide their children with a safe, consistent place to stay while they work night and weekend shifts. Clark County Child Care will help reduce absenteeism, tardiness and turnover among employees.”

Clark County Child Care also will contribute to industrial recruitment and retention in the county—a key consideration given job losses in this sector in recent years. According to the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, between 2001 and 2006 the four key industrial sectors in Clark County (Construction; Information; Manufacturing; and Trade, Transportation, and Utilities) lost a total of 30 businesses, resulting in a loss of more than 950 jobs.

“This innovative project will help Clark County attract new industries by providing an invaluable service to employees and serving as an appealing resource for prospective industrial employers,” said Phillip N. Baldwin, President and Chief Executive Officer of Southern Bancorp.

The facility is open to all children regardless of whether their parents work in the industrial park. Information on enrollment is available by calling (870) 245-5555 or by stopping by the center for an application.

Click here for more information about the Clark County Strategic Plan.