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ARKADELPHIA—Groundbreaking was held today for the Clark County Child Care center, a new 24-hour facility that will serve up to 100 children per shift and is scheduled to open by the end of 2008.

The center, funded by a $690,000 grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families, will be constructed by Southern Community Development Corporation (CDC) on 2 acres of land in the Clark County Industrial Park on U.S. 67 south of Arkadelphia.

The center will measure about 7,500 square feet; include adequate parking and classroom space; and meet all state licensing requirements. The center is specifically designed to serve children of employees working in the industrial park, but the facility will be open to all children in Clark County.

Construction of the center 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.

“The child care center is a direct result of the Clark County Strategic Plan, said Southern CDC President John R. French. “Very early during the planning process, it became apparent that there was widespread support for such a facility.”

Schools of the 21st Century educational programs from Yale University will be incorporated in the facility curriculum. Child care rates will be very competitive with the local market, and state child care vouchers will be accepted.

The $690,000 grant was awarded in September 2007 by the federal agency to Southern Financial Partners, which will transfer the grant to Southern CDC, the nonprofit real estate development affiliate of Southern Bancorp. Southern CDC is building the 7,525 square foot structure in the Clark County Industrial Park on two acres of land leased for $1 per year from the Clark County Industrial Council.

The completed facility will be leased from Southern CDC to the newly formed Clark County Child Care Inc., which is the nonprofit company that will operate and manage the facility.

Clark County Child Care Inc. will be governed by a nine-member board of directors including representatives of the Arkadelphia, Centerpoint, and Gurdon school districts; Southern CDC; Scroll Technologies, Member of the Danfoss Group; Petit Jean Poultry; Henderson State University; Ouachita Baptist University; and Southern Financial Partners.