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City of Jackson Supports Local Business, Housing, and Non-Profit Activities

CITY OF JACKSON SUPPORTS LOCAL BUSINESS, HOUSING, AND NON-PROFIT ACTIVITIES On Wednesday, November 1st the “ribbon cutting” was held on the new Belmont Heights Subdivision on the north side of Jackson east of the Liquor Store. This is an example of the public/private partnership between the City of Jackson, a willing developer, and our local industries that is required to make long awaited market rate housing become a reality. Within a year there will be a new 41 unit apartment complex and 8 townhome units ready to come online with more units waiting in the wings. When all is said and done within a few years there is projected to be over 240 new additional units of market rate housing.

Some may call the City assisting in a housing project “government overreach”. In a perfect world the City would not need to provide financial assistance to a housing project. However, in Jackson as in many communities outside the Twin Cities Metro area the cost of construction verses the rent dollars derived from what the market can support do not align in a manner without some creativity and flexibility to make these projects come together for the betterment of our community.

The City of Jackson has a long history providing a variety of forms of financial assistance to our business community and non-profits. The City has provided numerous loans to businesses through its Revolving Loan Fund where there was a gap in financing needed to make these projects come to reality. At the start of COVID the City provided over $300,000 in emergency funds to our local business to help keep them afloat. The City has also provided financial assistance to local non-profits such as the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce, Jackson Center for the Arts, the Jackson Food Shelf, the Fort Belmont Foundation, JACKFIELD Softball Association, Jackson Cemetery Association, etc. As a result of local government assistance we have retail businesses, industries, restaurants, and non-profits for the betterment of our community that may not otherwise be here. We have also provided numerous “fix up” loans to residents to make needed repairs to their homes.

The Little Huskies Learning Center (LHLC) is another example of where the City has become involved to help keep a vital service afloat. Jackson is not alone our struggle to ensure there is ample, affordable, quality childcare in our community. It seems this is a struggle in almost all communities outside the Twin Cities Metro. Again, in a perfect world the City would not need to intervene to help keep a childcare center afloat. However, the business model in Greater Minnesota for childcare is broken. The cost of operating a childcare center far outpaces what parents can afford to pay. As a result, many communities are entering into a variety of private/public partnerships to keep this critical infrastructure available.

Back in August the City was blindsided with no notice that the LHLC was less than 24 hours away from closing its doors for good. The parents of 80 or so children would have been forced to scramble to find alternative childcare arrangements. With the already serious shortage of childcare in Jackson many undoubtedly would have been forced to leave the workforce. This would have been a disaster with crippling effects throughout our community. Without quality, affordable childcare many of our employers would not be able to attract and keep valuable employees. Without these employees many of our local businesses would not be able to sustain their operations and some may have had to close their doors permanently or severely curtail their operations.

The City of Jackson and LHLC Board are working to determine the best operating model going forward to ensure that we have quality, affordable childcare available for those in our community who need it. However, like so many endeavors that have benefited our community we know that this too will need some sort of public/private partnership involving a variety of community entities. This should not be considered government overreach, but the community coming together to provide a critical service for our residents.

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