A group pursuing a childcare and event center in Hancock has raised $46,100 in pledges which means Stevens County is willing to let the project move ahead.

"It's exciting," group member Jon Boon said of the presentation to the Stevens County Board of Commissioners on June 4.

The group doesn't yet have an official name but it has received a tax identification number and is in the process of applying for 501c3 status.

Now, "we will continue fundraising and getting more people to help us," group member Troy Scott said.

The group needs about $3 million for a childcare and event center project but also said the project can be reduced to $1.5 million.

The county board last week asked the group to get $46,100 in pledges by June 4 in order for the county to release original site developer Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation from being required to pay back a $46,100 grant to the state. MMCDC is the parent company of Community Development Bank in Hancock.

The pledged $46,100 means the Hancock group assumes the risk of paying back the state grant should it not meet the tax value and substantial project completion modifications made by the Department of Employment and Economic Development.

MMCDC owns the property in Hancock's downtown on which the Hancock group wants to build a childcare and event center.

The DEED grant was used by the county and the city of Hancock to demolish buildings on the property in September 2017. MMCDC owns the entire property and has proposed building a townhouse housing project.

Deadlines prompted the county to ask that the Hancock group raised $46,100 in pledges by June 4.

Although the county received a modification from DEED to allow substantial completion of a childcare and event center to be completed by the end of 2021, MMCDC needed to decide by early June if it would pursue its housing project. That housing project would need to be completed by December of this year under DEED requirements. If not, MMCDC would need to start repaying the grant.

Commissioners congratulated the Hancock group on successfully receiving $46,100 in pledges as did Natalie Bly of MMCDC.

The board wants the Hancock group to report on its progress at the first meeting in November.

Boon said now that the Hancock group can move forward he expects more community residents to volunteer to help and donate.

Troy Scott of the group said the group can use help with grant writing other tasks in addition to fundraising.