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
641-472-5929
mandi@jeffcoph.com

Julie Ledger, Child Care Resources & Referral
Child Care Consultant
jledger@caeiowa.org

Media Contact:

Tammy Wetjen-Kesterson, Early Childhood Iowa
Director for Iowa, Keokuk and Jefferson Counties
iowajeffersonkeokukeci@gmail.com

 

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
641-661-2028

 

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

michelleEsvenson@gmail.com

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 https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/JeffersonCountyChildCare.

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 iowajeffersonkeokukeci@gmail.com or Joshua Laraby at joshua.laraby@growfairfield.com

2018 Annual Fairfield Job Fair

IowaWORKS and Fairfield Economic Development Association will host our Annual Job Fair on Thursday, May 10, 2018 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center Expo Hall…

Creative Edge Awarded Low Interest Loan from R.E.D.I. To Expand Operations and Create New Jobs

Pictured,Chris Bowers and Jim Belilove

Creative Edge Master Shop in Fairfield has been awarded a $110,000 low-interest loan from the Regional Economic Development Incorporated (R.E.D.I) Revolving Loan Fund to assist in expanding their operations. The R.E.D.I. Revolving Loan Fund is intended to be coupled with traditional financing or other Revolving Loan Funds. The loan funds will be used to purchase additional Waterjet Technology Machines and to upgrade existing equipment.

The planned expansion has immediately created 10 new advanced manufacturing jobs in the firms ToolKeepers Division which manufactures high performance industrial foam tool kits. The new jobs will include adding an additional programming engineer, a machinist and production positions. President of Creative Edge, Jim Belilove, worked with Fairfield Economic Development Association in applying for the loan which is administered by Area 15 Regional Planning Commission.

“The REDI Revolving Loan Fund has been an important ally in the expansion of Creative Edge and has made possible several expansions over the years. This project will add high-tech equipment and productive capacity to fuel the growth in the ToolKeepers Division” according to Belilove.

“The expansion of operations and the 10 new advanced manufacturing jobs is exciting news for Creative Edge and for Fairfield. Creative Edge has been a foundational employer in the community and they understand innovation is important, this is why they are seeing this growth” says, Joshua Laraby, Executive Director for Fairfield Economic Development Association.

Chris Bowers, Executive Director for Area 15 Regional Planning Commission shares, “Creative Edge and FEDA have a long history of working together to help create and retain jobs in our region. This is our fifth business loan since 2002 with Creative Edge. We have watched Jim’s business grow and succeed and I’m excited about the new opportunities this expansion project will create in Fairfield and the surrounding region. This is a good example of the importance of our partnerships in economic development to help keep and expand jobs in Southeast Iowa.”

In addition to Creative Edge’s ToolKeepers Division, they also have a hard surfaces flooring and soft surfaces flooring division that also utilizes Waterjet Technology. The company has a 30-year global footprint with installations around the world.

Jefferson County businesses interested in more information on the R.E.D.I Revolving Loan Fund and opportunities to finance projects should contact Joshua Laraby, Executive Director for Fairfield Economic Development Association.

Population and Household Incomes Growing in Jefferson County, Iowa

Last week the U.S. Census Bureau released various county-level figures from 2016 and the data shows Jefferson County has seen a 7.4 increase in population over figures released last year. Last year’s population estimate was 17,318, this year’s estimate is 18,090. The data, which is produced using estimations and isn’t quite as accurate as the full census conducted every 10 years, but it does show trends. The number of those families at or below the poverty level has decreased in the last year. In 2015 the estimated poverty rate was 15%, the latest figures show that number at 14%. The median household income has also risen over last year, figures show an average household income was $42,899 in 2015, that number is now $45,257. The change is consistent with micropolitan areas nationwide. In such areas, rent increased more than twice as often as it decreased. The data also includes median household property values, and Jefferson County shows a rise from $101,000 in 2015 to $110,700 in 2016 with 66.3% of the population owning their own home. The average rental rate this past year was $626. A complete breakdown of the mid-census numbers can found at census.gov

www.exploreseiowa.com/2017/12/12/census-numbers-show-growth-in-jefferson-county/