NDOF helping to meet childcare service needs one loan at a time, approves financing for Inspiration Station

Childcare is one of the most pressing needs facing working families.

The wait is so long and the demand is so high, that many couples get on waiting lists after finding out they are expecting a child all so they can be guaranteed a spot several months in the future.

The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the issue in many communities and labor shortages continue to plague the industry, along with every other sector of the economy. 

The issue is particularly acute in rural communities where it is not uncommon for a town to be dependent on one provider. If there is a disruption to the provider, the entire community is impacted. For North Dakota’s larger communities, the challenge is often too few providers. And for those providing care, demand for care is strong and intense.

The North Dakota Opportunity Fund is working to address this issue by providing loans to help providers start and expand. Inspiration Station is the latest childcare provider to receive NDOF support.

Sisters’ Shared Business Dream Now Coming True

The Dickinson-based provider was recently approved for financing to help purchase a commercial building, which will allow owners Ashley Rasmussen and Erika Sickler to expand their services.

Both women entrepreneurs own and operate ERA Dynamics, LLC, which will serve as the holding company for the property. Currently, the two sisters own and operate a small-group daycare from the basement of Rasmussen’s residence.

The new property, located in a residential neighborhood, was issued a special permit by the City of Dickinson to allow for a commercial childcare center, will allow both women to expand their services to include both a childcare center and a preschool. Thereby, meeting two critical needs for working families with young children.

“We have had a great support system, and an awesome team of leaders behind us helping us expand our childcare services,” says Rasmussen, who shared that they had been looking for the chance to expand.

“We had always talked about wanting to expand, but thought it would be a few years out yet. When this new property became available, it fit our vision perfectly and we knew we had to act on it right away. We are very appreciative of Lewis and Clark Development Group and The North Dakota Opportunity Fund for all their assistance in making our dream a reality.”

Enhancing North Dakota’s Communities

LCD Group Commercial Lending Director Matt Burthold says, from his perspective, projects such as Inspiration Station are particularly rewarding.

“The North Dakota Opportunity Fund was created in 2012 to leverage private financing to help small businesses like Inspiration Station get the funds they need to expand and create jobs,” observes Burthold.

“On this project we worked with the lead lender, Cornerstone Bank, and Stark Development Corporation to put together a package that will not only create new childcare jobs but will, most importantly, meet a critical community need. A project like this emphasizes that the North Dakota Opportunity Fund is about more than creating jobs, it’s also about enhancing North Dakota’s communities.”

Grateful for the support they have received, Sickler and Rasmussen are eager to hit the ground running and serving more Dickinson families.

“We look forward to expanding our daycare and preschool services,” says Erika Sickler.

“The Inspiration Station offers a new and unique setting to the childcare industry. We will provide a fun, safe, educational, and home-like environment. We are very excited to share our new space with our community.”

About the North Dakota Opportunity Fund

The North Dakota Opportunity Fund leverages private financing to help small businesses and manufacturers attain needed funds and investments to expand and create jobs.

LCD Group manages the Fund, which is available in 38 municipalities across the state.

Since 2012, the North Dakota Opportunity Fund has disbursed $29.9 million in loan proceeds.

It has also recently expanded to include a Collateral Support Program.

Click here for more information about the North Dakota Opportunity Fund or contact Matt Burthold at (701) 667-7601 or at matt@lcdgroup.org.