ALCAST Midwest Works (formerly FALCO) Sells to Aluminum Castings Company

Fairfield, Iowa (November 30th,2018) Effective yesterday, ALCAST Midwest Works LLC in Fairfield, restructured and sold its operating assets to its Galesburg, Illinois based sister company, Aluminum Castings Company.

Aluminum Casting Company is a high-quality American aluminum sand castings foundry, specializing in supplying both cored and uncored parts in several aluminum alloys of all sizes and volumes, including prototyping.

Vice President of Operations for Aluminum Casting Company, Scott Kelsey, said, “we want to reassure the community, little will change, and operations will stay in Fairfield. Aluminum Castings Company is stable and well established. This was a strategic business move for us to ensure the life of Fairfield operations and this will position us for growth in this facility.”

With this transition, Kelsey said that operations between their different location were also restructured. They have reemphasized the sand molding operations in Fairfield to leverage the existing equipment and talent at the Fairfield location. They have also relocated their heat treating and grinding operations back to the Fairfield from their Clarence, Missouri facility. In addition, a portion of the previously outsourced core making work, has now also been brought in-house to the Fairfield location. “This is a positive change for the long-term sustainability of the company, we’re going to have a completely different level of support from their years’ experience from our other operations, said Kelsey”

In the sale, 36 of the Fairfield staff were hired by Aluminum Casting Company and 9 were not hired. “We were able to identify some opportunities for work-sharing with our other facilities and create some efficiency within our operations, said, Kelsey”

Kelsey, has been the V.P. of Operation for Fairfield since the first acquisition in August of 2017, says “ownership and management will not change. We have invested $1.5 million dollars into the facilities and equipment in Fairfield since 2017 and we have also added great health insurance benefits for our employees and a 401K opportunity, both which were not previously offered.”

Kelsey sees a positive outlook on the aluminum castings industry, both in the short and long term. “The industry is strong and as long we are able to maintain sustainable profits, we are looking at adding a new sand molding machine in Fairfield, which would add jobs here.”

Joshua Laraby, Executive Director for Fairfield Economic Development Association, said, “It is good news to hear most operations will remain in Fairfield. Considering the changes, things sound to be stable for the company overall.”

“The local economy is strong and all of our sectors including the manufacturing sector are continuing to grow and add jobs. I encourage the displaced workers to apply with the Fairfield manufacturing companies.”

New Home Child Care Provider Incentive Program for Jefferson County


Fairfield, Iowa (October 12th, 2018) The Iowa/Jefferson/Keokuk Early Childhood Iowa Board is collaborating with the Jefferson County Child Care Steering Committee to offer a new incentive program to anyone wishing to start a new child care program in their home or to become a registered child care home provider if they are already caring for children in their home. Participants in the program can receive up to $3,500 in incentives.

Home-based child care businesses enrolled in the incentive program, will need to work with Child Care Resource and Referral and the Jefferson County Child Care Nurse Consultant to begin an application. The new incentive program will provide the following tiered-incentives:

Requirement:                                                                        Incentive:

  • Become a DHS Registered Provider                                      $500.00
  • Remain a DHS Registered Provider 6 months                    $500.00
  • Remain a DHS Registered Provider 12 months                  $500.00
  • Remain a DHS Registered Provider 18 months                  $500.00
  • Remain a DHS Registered Provider 24 months                  $500.00
  • Become A Level 1 on Quality Rating System                        $500.00
  • Become A Level 2 on Quality Rating System                        $500.00

                                                                        $3,500.00 Total Incentive

“Our goal is to recruit five new home-based child care businesses in the Fairfield community by July 1, 2019. Home-based child care businesses will be eligible for incentive payment once they complete the quality and longevity requirements,” said Tammy Wetjen-Kesterson, Director for Iowa/Keokuk/Jefferson Early Childhood Iowa.

This new incentive program is in response to the committee’s three-tiered approach to addressing the child care shortage in the Fairfield Community:

• Assist Existing Child Care Business to Expand Services
• Recruit and Retain New Home-Based Child Care Businesses
• Open a New Child Care Facility in Fairfield

Joshua Laraby, Executive Director for Fairfield Economic Development Association said, “The work the steering committee has completed in the last few months has created a notable awareness in the community around the need for additional, quality and affordable child care spaces. We are not the only community in Iowa with a shortage of child care spaces, though in conversations on the state level, we are essentially forging the road in Fairfield with our strategic process. This new incentive is a helpful and measurable step towards closing the gap.”

The opportunity to create a thriving community by retaining, attracting and engaging families in the area depends on the availability of high quality, affordable, childcare. In an April 2018 survey in Jefferson County, 438 current and future parents articulated their challenges and desires regarding childcare. One take away from this survey is that, if a family can find affordable, high-quality child care, when they need it, they will stay in the school district, buy a home in the area, seek employment, patronize local businesses, and participate in community events. Child care is an important part of a community’s infrastructure; it is as critical as the built infrastructure.

In the first quarter of 2018, the Jefferson County Child Care Steering Committee, the Fairfield Economic Development Association, and the Iowa/Jefferson/Keokuk Early Childhood Area Board commissioned First Children’s Finance of Des Moines to complete a Child Care Market Analysis to better understand the child care market in Jefferson County. The Child Care Market Analysis showed there are shortages in the number of child care slots for two-year old’s, and for full-day, full-year preschool for three and four-year old’s. Parents that participated in the market study identified a licensed center or a registered child care development homes as their most preferred options for providing care to their children.

There will be incentive information forthcoming for existing Registered Home-Based Providers.


Contact’s to learn more:

Mandi Lauderman, Jefferson County Public Health
County Child Care Nurse Consultant

Julie Ledger, Child Care Resources & Referral
Child Care Consultant

Media Contact:

Tammy Wetjen-Kesterson, Early Childhood Iowa
Director for Iowa, Keokuk and Jefferson Counties


Creative Edge Master Shop Sells to Weaton Capital And Secures the Legacy of Fairfield Business Icon


*Story courtesy of Creative Edge Master Shop

(October 9th, 2018) Creative Edge Master Shop has been a pillar of the manufacturing community in Fairfield for the past 30 years. Now CEO Jim Belilove has announced a transition of ownership to a chosen buyer, Weaton Capital, which will continue Belilove’s legacy and retain operations in Fairfield. The sale includes two other divisions of Creative Edge (ToolKeepers and Resilient Flooring) and became effective October 1st, with Belilove remaining involved as a principal for four years.

“Nate Weaton is a born-and-bred Iowan and Fairfield resident with deep roots in this community,” says Belilove. “He plans to be involved in daily operations at our factory in Fairfield. Although he provided the investment capital through his company, Weaton Capital, he’s not an arms-length investor. He’s a ‘roll up your sleeves’ investor.”

Weaton says that his company’s guiding principle is to protect and value the founder’s legacy when they invest in a company. “We hung out our shingle because we want to be local, we want to invest in Iowa businesses,” he says.

Josh Laraby, executive director of Fairfield Economic Development Association (FEDA)—whose mission is to facilitate economic growth in Fairfield by supporting existing Fairfield businesses and recruiting new ones—calls it “a perfect marriage between a local business founder and a local entrepreneurial investor.”

It’s a story of successful Fairfield development—first because Jim Belilove and Creative Edge have been important supporters of FEDA and the Fairfield business community for 30 years, and second because Weaton Capital, a new Fairfield business, is providing security for Creative Edge’s employees and retaining its Fairfield location into the future.

30 Years of Supporting the Fairfield Economy
In many ways, it’s a happy continuation for a story that started 30 years ago.

“From the start, Creative Edge was a local business that not only promoted growth in Fairfield but had a global reach,” says Laraby.

Back in 1988, abrasive-waterjet technology was relatively unknown, used for cutting frozen vegetables and windshields, its artistic potential untapped. It was Creative Edge that pioneered the use of waterjet-technology to create intricate, Renaissance-quality designs for stone and tile flooring. Today the Creative Edge brand is known all over the world for creating more than 10,000 floors and wall murals in hotel lobbies, airports, children’s hospitals, churches, and government buildings from the U.S. to Saudi Arabia.

The sheer range of their projects is astounding. Just a few of their high-profile, award-winning projects include the Astronaut Memorial at Kennedy Space Center, the visitor’s center at West Point and the entryway to Disney World in Florida. Three recent projects that won major national industry awards: the marble lobby medallion at the Bellagio Las Vegas; the steel-and-granite Spotlight on Broadway sidewalk installation in Times Square; and the 69,000-square-foot decorative terrazzo floor at the Pittsburgh International Airport.

According to Laraby, Creative Edge has been an iconic Fairfield employer. Many of Belilove’s 40 employees have been with him for 20 years or more—and he’s already retired 16 people who have spent their full career with Creative Edge.

“That’s extremely rare, for a company to retain and sustain its employees like that,” Laraby points out. “And coming from the voice of the employees, it’s because of the congenial and high-quality company culture. That goes a long way.”

Creative Edge has also been generous in installing their beautiful art in key locations in Fairfield. Local installations by Creative Edge include spectacular lobby floors of the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center, the Student Center at Maharishi University of Management, First National Bank, Iowa State Bank, Libertyville Bank, the Jefferson County Veteran’s Monument and new storefront signage as part of the recent renovation of the town square.

Laraby says that Creative Edge has helped diversify the local economy. “Jim creates these magnificent art pieces and is a unique part of the manufacturing sector,” says Laraby. “That contributes to a more diversified and therefore stronger economy for Fairfield.”

Laraby also notes that Creative Edge has been a stable resident within FEDA’s first industrial park, occupying their own 120,000-square-foot building.

Finally, Creative Edge is one of the few Fairfield companies that exports a made-in-the USA product to other countries, contributing to both the national and local economies.

“People often think that this level of artistry could only be created overseas with cheaper labor,” says Belilove. “But Creative Edge installations are actually a perfect combination of American manufacturing and American design.”

Belilove and his wife, Ginger, have also been strong supporters of the arts and business community in Fairfield.

A Supportive Community for Businesses
In his global business travels Belilove has served as a kind of ambassador for Fairfield. “Ginger and I have grown our business in Fairfield for thirty years because we love it here,” says Belilove. “And I’m always proud to say that our business is based in Fairfield. It’s a great place to live and work from.”

Jim Belilove points out that Iowa is now rated the best state in the country for a wide variety of factors such as business opportunity, education, and quality of life, according to US News & World Report’s Best States Rankings.

The supportive financial structure is one reason Fairfield is a fertile ground for business. Belilove says that Creative Edge has received essential loans through FEDA and local banks over the years.

“Iowa State Bank has been in this community since 1934 and is a community-invested
bank,” he says. “They’re tied to the nurture and health of Fairfield. I’ve worked with a number of bank presidents, and each one extended the previous president’s goodwill towards Creative Edge.”

That goodwill came into play on three occasions when Creative Edge was experiencing challenges and got behind on their payments. “Each time I got a call from the bank, asking to meet with me. A lot of times that is a really bad call to get. But instead it was always, ‘Jim, how can we help you?’”

“Management and ownership succession are universal challenges for businesses across Iowa. I couldn’t be more pleased with Jim and Nate coming together to solve both of these issues for Creative Edge. They’re a powerful duo and will complement each other very well,” says Aaron Kness, President/CEO of Iowa State Bank & Trust Co.
“At Iowa State Bank we take pride in providing value to business clients beyond loans and deposit accounts. Two of the most impactful services we provide are not in any of our brochures or marketing materials, such as helping to build strategic alliances and assisting in transactions that make our clients stronger and more successful.”
Belilove feels that it was Iowa State Bank’s confidence in Creative Edge that not only allowed him to continue but also led to other important financing, such as the six low-interest loans provided by Regional Economic Development Incorporated (R.E.D.I.) that he has received through FEDA.

“A R.E.D.I. loan is a regional revolving loan fund for business development that FEDA provides to qualified businesses,” says Laraby. “Each time the business owner pays back the loan, it becomes available to help another owner to expand operations.”

With their most recent R.E.D.I. loan, for instance, Creative Edge was able to purchase new waterjet machines and upgrade existing equipment.

“The R.E.D.I. Revolving Loan Fund has been an important ally to Creative Edge and has made possible several expansions over the years,” says Belilove. “This new loan allows us to add high-tech equipment and productive capacity to fuel the growth in our ToolKeepers Division and has allowed us to add ten new jobs for Fairfielders.”

Protecting and Valuing the Founder’s Legacy
With Belilove’s love of Fairfield and his investment in the community, he was looking for a transition partner who would continue operating Creative Edge from Fairfield.

“I knew I wanted a buyer who considers being located in the state of Iowa and the city of Fairfield to be good thing, not just something you have to put up with, or somewhere you don’t really want to be,” says Belilove.

But as the years passed without finding the right partner, he was beginning to wonder. “My wife joked that I would be still working here until I reached 100,” says Belilove.

Enter Nate Weaton, who recently established Weaton Capital as founder and partner, and purchased Creative Edge as the company’s third investment, which he feels is a perfect fit, like “inserting a square peg in a square hole.”

Weaton brings a wealth of relevant experience to the Creative Edge purchase agreement. His career has a solid balance of entrepreneurial ventures and large public-company experiences. Most recently, he was with Dover Corporation serving as Vice President and General Manager of their Hill Phoenix Specialty Products Division inn Keosauqua, IA, their Case Division in Richmond, VA, and ended his career with Dover Refrigeration and Food Equipment as Senior Vice President of Business Development.
In 2017 he left Dover and made the decision to work in Fairfield, where he has lived for the past 20 years. He has deep roots here, raising a family of five children, with his youngest in 7th grade. His wife, Lori Schaefer-Weaton, is president of Agri-Industrial Plastics in Fairfield. Nate Weaton also serves on the board of ABI and is active in organizations such as Elevate Iowa and Elevate Manufacturing.
Weaton and his partners are passionate about working in Fairfield and giving back to the community. He volunteers as a Fairfield High School football coach, and is involved in a series of civic outreach organizations, from Habitat for Humanity to Little Super Heroes Foundation to the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center.

All of his business experience—and his Fairfield connection—comes into play in his new role at Weaton Capital. “We can take all the experience in the big company and bring what was good about it back to Fairfield—bring the resources back, bring the relationships back, the connections back,” says Weaton.

Weaton’s vision for Creative Edge? “You keep doing what you’re doing,” he says. “You build on the really great thing, which is the beautiful stuff across the globe that they create, that has an impact. I wouldn’t change the brand, I wouldn’t change the product. I think there are other markets we can go after—and Jim and I have talked about that. But I would keep doing what we’re doing, just do it more often and more of it, and expand. You see this beautiful stuff across the globe, and it’s having an impact. That’s what I find exciting.”

Helping Fairfield Businesses Grow through Succession Planning
Weaton Capital is poised to invest in other businesses in Southeast Iowa because Nate Weaton sees it as a great place to do business.

“There are a lot of really positive aspects to Iowa,” he says. “You can touch on all the hot buttons: values, work ethic, work force, quality of life. We have a great education system—one of the best community college systems in the nation. It’s a great place to raise families. And from a pure business perspective—we’re right smack in the middle of the US. We can ship to both coasts, north and south.”

Weaton and his partners feel that the Creative Edge agreement is a good working model for other companies they invest in: as with Creative Edge, they plan to be hands on, to be involved with day-to-day operations, and to continue the founder’s legacy.

In other words, Weaton Capital provides something that many small businesses are lacking: a succession plan.

“This is particularly an issue in small towns,” says Belilove. “The pool of potential buyers is limited, the kids move away and if you look around there’s a lot of business owners like me—they have a successful company but they don’t have a successor.”

Josh Laraby agrees. “It’s important for resources like Weaton Capital to be available to Fairfield companies, to engage in conversations about succession plans,” he says. “This is important across all sectors—retail, manufacturing, finance, healthcare, every type of business.”

Belilove says that he’s willing to be a poster child for the kind of succession planning that Weaton Capital provides. “They can invest in companies and help them expand and grow and continue for generations in the way the founder intended,” he says.

Belilove laughs when he shares the way he pictures the transaction.

“I was driving the stagecoach, and then Nate Weaton climbed aboard,” he says. “We came to an agreement, and without stopping it or changing how Creative Edge operates, he will now have the reins. It’s the same stagecoach and the same direction. That’s a good image of how this will work. It’s way different from someone coming in from the outside.”

$200,000 Grant to Support Research on Cutting Edge Solar and Battery Storage Installations in Fairfield

USDA Grant/Loan Announced for Fairfield Shell Building

Fairfield, Iowa, September 12th, 2018 – The USDA Rural Development has announced an economic development grant to be awarded to Access Energy Cooperative for a shell building in the Fairfield Business & Industrial Park. Once the grant is received, Access Energy Cooperative will loan the grant money of $300,000, plus $60,000 in matching funds, to the Fairfield Economic Development Association for construction of the shell building. Once the building is sold and the loan has been paid back, the money will become part of the Access Energy Cooperative Revolving Loan Fund to loan out to other local economic development projects.

Fairfield Economic Development Executive Director, Josh Laraby noted, “Access Energy Cooperative has been a vital partner in the new business park and shell building’s development, with their assistance on the sewer expansion, construction of the 3-phase electrical service to the park, and now financial assistance with the shell building project.”

              This is an artist rendering of the new Fairfield Business & Industrial Park on the south side of Fairfield. The proposed site plan is                                               subject to change. The rendering is provided by Fairfield Economic Development Association.

The City of Fairfield, Jefferson County, Fairfield Economic Development Association, Access Energy Cooperative, and Northeast Missouri Electric Power Cooperative are all members of a 28E Agreement that is moving forward with plans to construct a 30,000 sq. ft. shell building designed to attract new businesses or assist an existing business with expansion. The committee is in the process of finalizing project details and more information will be forthcoming.

For more information, contact:

Joshua Laraby
Executive Director
Fairfield Economic Development Association (FEDA)
101 North Court Street
Fairfield IA 52556

Kevin Wheeler
General Manager/CEO
Access Energy Cooperative
1800 West Washington Street
Mt. Pleasant IA 52641

Dexter Laundry Begins Construction on New Laundromat and Retail Space

Dexter Laundry recently began construction on a new state-of-the-art self-service laundry on Burlington Ave in Fairfield.  The 6,000 sq. ft. building will include the laundry as well as accommodate additional retail outlets.

Pictured is the front elevation rendering of the New Dexter Laundry facility under construction at the intersection of 4th Street and Burlington.

“We are excited to bring a new facility and retail space to Fairfield.  The corner of Burlington and 4th Ave. has been a self-service laundry for over 50 years. We want this location to better serve the community plus highlight Dexter equipment made right here in Fairfield,” states Andrew Kretz, President & CEO of Dexter Apache Holdings.

The laundry will occupy 3,000 sq. ft and serve as a showcase store for Dexter’s worldwide network of commercial laundry distributors and service technicians.

“We routinely host customers from around the globe; a functioning showcase store will allow us to display our products and train our customers on best installation practices and service techniques,” says Craig Kirchner, President of Dexter Laundry.

The remaining 3,000 sq. ft. can accommodate one or two future tenants, including the option of a drive-up window.  “The new building will be one of the most attractive in town, giving our community something to be proud of and potentially attract new businesses to Fairfield,” explains Kirchner.

Fairfield Economic Development Association’s, Executive Director, Joshua Laraby says, “Dexter Laundry continues to give back to Fairfield and their further investment of this stunning new facility in our community is very exciting. This new center will not only be a globally visited demonstration site for their customers and a state-of-the-art laundromat for the public, but it will also add to Fairfield’s portfolio of available retail space. This will be helpful in attracting new business to Fairfield.”

The project is expected to be complete in the spring of 2019.  The current laundry will remain open during construction and will later become additional parking once construction of the new facility is complete.


For more information about the available retail space, contact:

Fairfield Economic Development Association

Executive Director, Joshua Laraby



Pekin Child Care Center Expands Infant Care

This month, Pekin Child Care Center will be expanding the child care services and adding 12 infant spaces.

The center currently serves 168 children and once the 12 new spaces open, this will bring the total number of children served to 180.

Currently, Pekin Child Care Center has:

  • An infant room for children for 6 weeks of age to 1-years-old.
  • A transition room for children age 1-years-old to age 2-years-old.
  • A multi-age room serving ages 2-years-old to 5, a room structured similar to preschool, to meet each child’s developmental needs.
  • They also offer traditional preschool that serves 4-year-olds and also offer before and after school care to school age children.


Currently, the center employs 24 staff members and they will be adding one additional full-time staff person to support the expansion and some part-time staff will also transition to full-time.

Co-directors of the Pekin Child Care Center, Janet Conger and Gina Swearingen, and Administrator Kim Ledger expressed the expansion was driven by the center’s waiting list for infant spaces. They have had expecting parents reaching out to them for a spot on their waitlist. With this, they said the twelve expansion spaces are already filled.

The Pekin School District had an existing building on their campus that historically had many uses over the years, though most recently was unused, making the building available to be repurposed. The school district donated the building to the Pekin Child Care Center and it was relocated directly adjacent to the existing center. The building has been under renovation this past summer and is now completed. Conger, Swearingen and Ledger worked with the Department of Human Services and the Iowa State Fire Marshall’s to meet building code requirements for the renovation of the building. The cost of the project was supported by private donations, the Pekin School District’s SAVE (Secure and Advanced Vision for Education) and sales tax dollars as well as center funds.

Looking forward, the leadership plans to expand the transition room for children age 1-year old to age 2-years old in the next few months to accommodate children as they age out of the infant room.

The Pekin Child Care program started in 1991 and moved to its current location in 2001 and began their infant program that same year. They have a level four out of five on the Iowa Quality Rating System and the infant staff receives PITC [Program for Infant and Toddler Care] training through Child Care Resource and Referral. The center also participates in the Iowa Positive Behavior Support Program.  This sets child expectations of behaviors, rules to operate by, and provides teachable moments to support appropriate behaviors. Finally, they participate in the State Child Care Assistance Program and the Iowa/Jefferson/Keokuk Early Childhood Iowa Preschool Scholarship Program to assist families with costs of tuition.

Kim Ledger said, “Pekin Childcare is committed to providing a quality service to the community. We take great pride in our long history of quality ratings and strive to develop programs that developmentally meet the needs of all the children we serve. We are supported by the Pekin School District, local businesses, and families who also strive to improve the greater community.  We are pleased to be in a position to expand our daycare facility in response to our community’s needs.”

Pekin Child Care Center has a long-term relationship with Indian Hills Community College to provide field experience for their Early Childhood Education Program.  They also work with the Pekin School District on a cross-age mentoring program for high school juniors and seniors that pair them with a child at the center.

The Jefferson County Child Care Steering Committee, the Fairfield Economic Development Association, and the Iowa/Jefferson/Keokuk Early Childhood Area Board commissioned First Children’s Finance to complete a Child Care Market Analysis to better understand the child care market in Fairfield and Jefferson County.  The Child Care Market Analysis showed there is a shortage of 137 infant spaces in Jefferson County. Parents that participated in the market study identified a licensed center or a registered child care development homes as their most preferred options for providing care to their children.

Pekin Child Care Center is serving 39 families with 57 children employed in Fairfield and they are serving 24 families with 38 children, living in Jefferson County.  In total, the center serves 95 children whose parents work in Fairfield or Jefferson County.

Tammy Wetjen-Kesterson said, the Iowa/Jefferson/Keokuk Board, “is looking forward to continuing to partner with Pekin Child Care Center to assist them with their expansion. Their expansion to provide quality early education and care to children helps to meet the child care challenges in Fairfield.”

Joshua Laraby, Executive Director for Fairfield Economic Development Association stated, “Pekin Child Care Center has been providing quality care for families working in Fairfield for many years. Although we have work to do to create additional spaces in the area, the expansion of these 12 infant spaces is very helpful in reducing the gap that we are experiencing. The center’s successful growth over the years, including this expansion, is a testament to the center’s leadership.”

For more information about Pekin Childcare Center’s services, contact:

Co-directors, Janet Conger and Gina Swearingen


Maharishi School Children’s House Expands Preschool and Child Care Services

Maharishi School Children’s House is expanding their child care and preschool services at the start of the new school year, by adding 24 new spaces for children.

They will now offer child care and preschool services to fifty-nine children this fall, compared to 35 spaces in the 2017-2018 school year.

Their new expansion will now have one classroom serving sixteen children ages eighteen months to three-year-old.  They will have two classrooms serving forty-three children ages three-year-old to six-years-old.  They will also be adding eight children to their afternoon program.  This will expand full-day services to forty-two children. The expansion of services has resulted in hiring additional staff.

Michelle Svenson was recently hired as the new director of the Maharishi School Children’s House.  She started with Maharishi School Children’s House in January 2015 and served as an assistant teacher and lead teacher before assuming responsibilities as the director in June 2018.  Maharishi School Children’s House is a licensed center with the Department of Human Services and the child care and preschool services are open to anyone in the general public. They also participate in the State Child Care Assistance Program and the Iowa/Jefferson/Keokuk Early Childhood Iowa Preschool Scholarship Program to assist families with costs of tuition.

Michelle Svenson, said, Maharishi School Children’s House offers a unique Montessori style classroom and an Arbor Day Foundation Nature Explore playground. “The Montessori classroom is filled with a pleasant ‘hum’ as the children are working and playing. Each room is filled with concrete materials that teach the children abstract concepts. Children are free to choose anything that is “available” on a shelf and know they can work with it as long as they like. They return it to the shelf when they are done. This environment grows capability, independence and a lifelong love of learning.”

Svenson also shared, “the certified Arbor Day Foundation Nature Explore playground allows the children all the space to collaborate, play, create and build. The free play that happens on our playground is the perfect complement to the Montessori classroom. Concepts of early consent, respectful listening, emotional intelligence and social problem solving allow children to thrive in our environment.”

Maharishi School Children’s House is currently in discussion about a further expansion in the school year 2019-2020, but have not yet galvanized the consideration.

In January 2018, the Jefferson County Child Care Steering Committee, the Fairfield Economic Development Association, and the Iowa/Jefferson/Keokuk Early Childhood Area Board commissioned First Children’s Finance to complete a Child Care Market Analysis to better understand the child care market in Jefferson County.  The Child Care Market Analysis showed there are shortages in the number of child care slots for two-year olds, and full-day, full-year preschool for three and four-year olds.  Parents that participated in the market study identified a licensed center or registered child care development homes as their most preferred options for providing care to their children.

Tammy Wetjen-Kesterson said, the Iowa Jefferson/Keokuk Board, “is looking forward to continuing to partner with Maharishi School Children’s House to assist them with their expansion. Their expansion to provide quality early education and care to children helps to meet the child care challenges in Fairfield.”

Joshua Laraby, Executive Director for Fairfield Economic Development Association, concluded with, “We see it essential to continue assisting in the facilitation of expanding child care services in the area. Child care services serve as vital infrastructure for growing and retaining our local workforce. Maharishi School Children’s House expanding their services will help address a segment of the gap we are currently experiencing in Jefferson County.”


For more information about services at Maharishi School Children’s School House, contact: 

Michelle Svenson, Director

641-472-9400 x5100

2018 Educators in the Workplace

Educators in the Workplace has a simple goal- provide exposure of business and industry career paths to teachers, counselors, and administrators in southeast Iowa school systems so that they have a much better idea of what types of work are available for their students. Even if those students don’t have college plans, there many options for high-paying, long-term careers…

Child Care Steering Committee Spearheads Efforts to Address Child Care Challenges Starting with the Release of Child Care Survey

Fairfield March 16, 2018

In November 2017, over fifty business and community leaders met to discuss child care challenges facing the Fairfield community.  Forum participants provided creative ideas to solve the existing child care challenges.  After, the forum participants formed a Child Care Steering Committee. The Child Care Steering Committee chose to conduct a market study to determine the amount of existing child care, to determine how much child care is needed by parents, and to determine which solutions will best meet the needs of businesses, parents, and the community.

Iowa/Jefferson/Keokuk Early Childhood Iowa Area in conjunction with Fairfield Economic Development Association, and the Child Care Steering Committee has contracted with First Children’s Finance to complete a child care market study. The first phase of the study will be a Child Care Market Analysis, which will include studying the supply and demand for child care in Jefferson County.  A component of the research will include a survey of local employers and parents and how child care affects them. The parent survey can be accessed online from March 19 through April 10 at

After the Child Care Market Analysis is complete, First Children’s Finance will facilitate a process that focuses on addressing Jefferson County’s child care needs. This process will include facilitated meetings to identify priorities and develop goals with detailed strategies and specific activities to address the child care needs identified in the market analysis.

Child Care Aware states “the impact of the lack of affordable, accessible high-quality child care on employers is written in the bottom line: adjusted for inflation, U.S. businesses lose approximately $4.4 billion annually due to employee absenteeism as the result of child care breakdowns.”

For more information about the study or the Child Care Steering Committee contact Tammy Wetjen-Kesterson at or Joshua Laraby at