ST. PETER — A proposed regional birth center in St. Peter was given preliminary approval Wednesday for a $65,000 loan by the St. Peter Economic Development Authority.
The request to help finance the establishment of the River Valley Birth Center was made by the St. Peter couple Erika and Joe Urban.
They plan to convert a house at 526 West Park Row Street into the large facility.
Erika Urban has already been providing midwife services since 2009.
She serves the St. Peter area and all other areas with 100 miles of the city. She is certified with the North American Registry of Midwives.
The proposed birth center will allow Urban to increase the number of women she serves, allowing her to grow from four to six births per month to possibly 25 to 30 births per month.
The birth center will also allow her to oversee multiple births at once, provide an additional location to host births and open up options to provide new services, such as water births.
The birth center will be the first of its kind to open south of the Twin Cities and one of only a handful ever opened in Minnesota. The use of midwifery care in births has increased in recent years and represented 8.1 percent of U.S. births in 2009, according to the Center for Disease Control.
Besides the loan, the Urban are working to raise funds to cover the cost of the down payment on the proposed site. The couple is operating an active crowd sourcing fundraiser on the website Go Fund Me. The fundraiser has collected $2,325 of its $22,000 goal as of Friday. The site can be viewed at http://www.gofundme.com/stpeterbirthcenter.
The St. Peter City Council approved a new ordinance in October that allowed the operation of birth centers in the city limits. The loan approved by the EDA will go before the City Council for possible approval on Jan. 13.