Organizers of a proposed childcare and event center in Hancock want to raise $3 million for the project by the end of the year.

A Saturday, July 27, fundraiser with hot dogs and kids games may not have raised a huge amount but Troy Scott, one of the organizers, said it was a push in the right direction.

“I tell you what, after that first fundraiser, it was way more than I expected. It was a good start,” Scott said.

Scott and his wife Heather own Hometown Flooring in Hancock which would be two doors down from the proposed childcare and event center in the city’s downtown.

The July 27 event did exactly what Scott had hoped. “We wanted to make sure people had fun. Our target market was families with very young kids up to third or second grade,” Scott said.

Families such as that attended as well as grandparents.

“We are here to support the childcare center,” Bridget Mogelar said. “I do think it’s needed. The whole county needs childcare as more in-home daycares are closing and the centers have waiting lists.”

Scott and other organizers of the proposed project have said based on studies from various agencies, 108 children in the area which includes Stevens County and nearby towns need childcare.

But it’s not just childcare that’s needed, said others at the fundraiser.

Austin Rosenow said the town needs “a place for the community, a place where the community can come together.”

Project organizers said the existing community center is usually cramped for events such as the annual fire department pancake feed, Santa night and other community events. A dual purpose building with a dual purpose kitchen would address two needs in the area, organizers said.

Scott said organizers are tentatively planning three other fund-raising events including one in Morris, one in Benson and second event in Hancock. Events such as the July 27 one are important to continue the excitement about the proposed childcare and event center, he said.

Meanwhile other project volunteers are meeting privately with potential donors, he said.

The recent event was good news to Scott and now it appears a tax change for non-profit childcare centers is also good news.

County coordinator Becky Young said information from the Minnesota Department of Revenue says that a childcare center must meet three criteria to benefit from a tax change. The tax change means the portion of the facility used for childcare would be free of taxes, Young said.

The owner of the childcare facility must be non-profit and it must own the facility and it must accept and use the child care assistance program, Young said.

As Scott understands it, the tax change will lower what the proposed project will pay in taxes.

The county and city received a Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development grant to help pay to demolish buildings on the empty property in Hancock. The property is owned Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation, the parent company of Community Development Bank in Hancock. MMCDC has proposed a townhouse project for the property but has agreed to delay any construction for a period of time while the childcare group raises money for its proposed project. Construction was supposed to have been completed by the end of the year. DEED also agreed on extending that deadline.

The demolition grant is tied to a certain amount of tax revenue produced by new construction.

Young said if the proposed childcare and event center qualifies for the tax exemption it would still generate enough tax revenue to meet the DEED requirement.