Governor Kristi Noem and Senator John Thune opposed President Joe Biden’s effort to include child care in his infrastructure investments. (Governor Noem also got all hot and self-contradictory when President Biden said water projects are infrastructure.) But such semantic stick-in-the-muddiness has clearly subsided, as even folks in the safe conserva-socialist confines of Madison acknowledge that child care is subsidizable infrastructure:
“Child care is infrastructure,” Rollag said. “When you view it as a necessary means for people to go to work, that’s infrastructure” [Makenzie Huber, “City Leaders Fund Child Care Center with Tax District Typically Used for Roads, Sewer,” South Dakota Searchlight, 2023.11.22].
Brooke Rollag raises four kids and executively directs Madison’s economic development agency, the Lake Area Improvement Corporation. Wearing both hats, she swung the Madison City Commission to approve tax increment financing, which usually benefits crony housing developers, to subsidize a child care center to be run by a Sioux Falls non-profit:
It’s the first time a community in South Dakota has used TIF money for that purpose, Rollag said.
“TIFs are, in my opinion, one of the greatest local tools we have,” said Rollag, who’s been working on the project for over two years. “The county and the city say, ‘We see value in the project you’re proposing.’ If not for this TIF project, the business would have a hard time moving forward. If not for this TIF, I don’t know how we’re going to build solutions for child care here.”
Sioux Falls-based child care nonprofit Embe will operate the center, set to break ground in spring 2024 and open in 2025. The 14,000 square foot, state-licensed facility will accommodate up to 140 children.
The building — which will cost around $4 million — will be owned by the Lake Area Improvement Corporation. The TIF will provide about $1.7 million for constructing the building, conservatively, but could generate up to $3 million. The rest of the money will be raised in a capital campaign led by Rollag.
The child care center will be built on 1.5 acres of park space in Madison — an underutilized T-ball diamond. Rollag worked with the city; South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks; and the National Park Service to remove the space from protected park status, since the park had previously received federal grant funds to build tennis courts [Huber, 2023.11.22].
It’s nice to see the LAIC coming up with a good idea that serves the general welfare more than it serves corrupt crony capitalism.