For years local officials and community leaders have attempted to address the lack of childcare availability in Macon County. Numerous challenges that accompany childcare facilities such as the cost of compliance with state regulations or the substantial startup costs associated with these facilities has lead to quality childcare remaining a farfetched “dream” for Macon County citizens. On Monday night however, the Town of Franklin took a giant leap towards making this “dream” become a reality.
The Town Board voted unanimously to approve the request for municipal sewer allocation to Macon Childcare and Educational Center, which is to be located at 2255 Old Murphy Road. The center will be a privately ran non-profit organization that will provide services to 120 children and generate approximately 35 new jobs for Macon County citizens.
It is no secret that a significant and growing shortage of child care capacity exists in Macon County. Currently, Macon County has a preschool (0-5 yrs.) population of approximately 2,161 children. With only 678 slots available county-wide for these children, a nearly 70 percent shortfall in availability persists. Even more shocking, is the lack of availability within the 0-2 yrs., or infant/ toddler age group, which has been estimated to be as high as 173 percent.
First and foremost, quality childhood education ensures that our children are well prepared for entering the public school system. Numerous studies have cited early childhood education leading to higher high school graduation rates, higher college achievement results and healthier, more productive lives for those who receive it. While benefitting the child, the childcare industry tremendously benefits the local economy as well. A study by Cornell University found that for every job created in the Childcare industry, 1.45 jobs are created throughout the local economy. In using this multiplier, the 35 jobs generated by the Macon Childcare and Education Center could add as many as 15 additional jobs to our local economy.
Aside from serving as a main draw for new business coming into the area, childcare also contributes to the functionality and efficiency of existing businesses as well. One in ten workers in North Carolina has a child under 6. In a survey by the Economic Opportunity Institute, nearly 30 percent of workers knew employees who quit their jobs because of inadequate Childcare availability. This employee turnover is estimated to cost as much as 1.5 times an employee’s salary.
In recognizing the numerous benefits that quality childcare will bring to both the citizens and economy of Macon County, the Town of Franklin is proud to assist the Macon Childcare and Educational Center. Furthermore, the Town commends this private business venture as it will come at no cost to the 40 percent of Macon County taxpayers over the age 55 as well as those without children, who more than likely have no need for childcare services. In the end, this facility will contribute to the quality of life for all Macon County residents, and the Town of Franklin is honored to have played a part in that.
Derek Roland — Franklin Economic Development Coordinator