Timely loan helped Great Bay Kids’ Company build and expand
A father of three, Mark Paige knows how hard it is for working parents to find infant and young-toddler care that is high-quality and affordable, and then to work their daily schedules around morning drop-offs and afternoon pickups.
So when Great Bay Kids’ Company was told it needed to find a new home for its Exeter child care program, its board of directors, chaired by Mark, saw an opportunity to expand its services to the community’s youngest children.
They started planning to build a school that would serve up to 125 children, including those under age 2, and to do it in a way that kept tuition costs down and the quality of care and education high.
The result: When children arrived at the brand-new Great Bay Kids’ Company school on Epping Road the day after Labor Day, preschoolers toted the usual baseball caps and backpacks, but some tiny fingers clutched bottles and blankets.
Parents who just a year earlier had to drive their infant to one child care center and their preschooler to another, in different towns, breathed sighs of relief.
So did Mark and the rest of the Great Bay Kids’ board and staff. From locating land for the school, to arranging funding, to getting town approvals, to designing and constructing the building, to hiring 20 additional staff to, finally, September’s opening, the project had been an 18-month sprint.
In fall of 2014, lenders at Georgetown Bank had contacted the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund. Great Bay Kids’ needed more real estate and construction funding than the bank could provide and had barely two months to fill the gap.
The Community Loan Fund came through not only with the needed financing, but worked with administrators to find grants for classroom supplies and equipment so costs could be kept low.
The new school is open, airy and filled with light. Teachers have ample closets and storage areas for supplies and a faculty room where they can work at computers when needed. A state-of-the-art kitchen features a walk-in freezer. It’s a thoroughly modern early-education center.
Without the Community Loan Fund, Mark says, “It couldn’t have happened.”
This story originally appeared in the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund’s 2015 annual report.