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Radford breaks ground for Early Learning Center

Center designBy CALVIN PYNN

calvin@www.southwesttimes.com

RADFORD – A new childcare facility is growing up in Radford.

The Radford Child Development Corporation Inc. broke ground Wednesday afternoon for a facility on property owned by Price Williams Realty off Tyler Avenue. According to Agida Manizade, board president for the corporation, Price Williams donated the land for the facility, which it will lease to the Troy, Mich.-based Rainbow Early Education.

By the start of 2016, what is now a 12,500-square-foot patch of concrete will become The Radford Early Learning Center.

According to Rainbow’s chief marketing officer, Hugh McBride, the childcare education company operates in 12 states, with four other schools in Virginia.

We know that this will make a difference to the children and families, not only in Radford, but in the surrounding areas as well,” McBride said.

Although this is the fifth school Rainbow will operate in Virginia, it will be the first for Radford. Manizade said Radford Child Development Corporation (RCDC) came together when she and the organization’s 12 other board members recognized a need for better childcare options in the New River Valley, and worked tirelessly for three years to make it possible.

The board members conducted needs assessments, which were distributed among the faculty and staff at Radford University, Radford City Public Schools and other businesses throughout the city. About 1,300 people participated in the study. Manizade said that through the assessments, they discovered that nine of 10 children in Radford did not have access to a state-licensed, full-time childcare facility.

That was a huge number,” she said.

Also, of 98 infants who needed placement in a childcare facility in Radford, there were only 12 available infant spots among all of the city’s current facilities, Manizade said.

There was a clear need, and since this community continues to attract young professionals, this need is going to continue to grow,” Manizade said. “Young families come in in their mid-30s, and the need is not going to disappear.”

In order to meet that need, Manizade says the organization recognized it was working with a puzzle, and the pieces needed to be put together.

We had to have land, we had to have a building, we had to have a managing company for it, we had to have funds for pre-open capital, and we had to have a sustainable business plan,” she said. “Those are the things that we worked together to make happen.”

According to Manizade, the Radford Early Learning Center will be a NAYEC-accredited facility, the highest level of educational program for kids six week and older. Therefore, she says the new facility will provide the kind of educational background the kids need to succeed in their formative years.

That basically guarantees their success the rest of their professional lives,” Manizade said. “Research shows that if they are successful during those first years of their life, in terms of their educational background, then they will also be successful the rest of their college lives as well.”

Manizade said that is what will distinguish the center among others in the area, as the facility will be focused on a unique educational program for children. The building will also feature an indoor gymnasium and a commercial kitchen, which allows some flat space for kids to play regardless of weather.

It’s going to provide the type of childcare that anyone dreams about,” Manizade said.

RCDC partnered with a number of other local organizations to bring the Early Learning Center to life. Those include the Radford University Foundation, which provided pre-open capital in the form of a zero-interest loan, as well as the New River Community Foundation, which provided a grant which allowed RCDC to create a sustainable fundraising plan, among others.

Manizade says RCDC is currently looking to partner with more local businesses and organizations for the initiative.

Price Williams provided the funds to construct the facility, which owner Jeff Price estimated at a cost of roughly $1.6 million. He said he plans for the Radford Early Learning Center to be the first building in a subdivision that will be built by Price Williams property.

We’ve worked hard with Rainbow Early Education and Radford University,” Price said. “This is going to be a game changer for childcare in Radford.”

According to Manizade, the building for the Radford Early Learning Center will be completed in November, and is slated to open on Jan. 4, 2016.

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