The Free Press, Mankato, MN

February 5, 2013

North Mankato day care loan request gets lukewarm response

By Tim Krohn
Free Press Staff Writer

NORTH MANKATO — A request by a proposed North Mankato day care for a subsidized long-term $250,000 loan was met with a lack of enthusiasm by the city's economic development authority.

The request, by Marsha Madigan, who plans to build Peter Pan Preschool and Child Care Center, spurred Port Authority members to re-evaluate what their role is and what should guide their decisions.

"There needs to be some kind of criteria," said Chairman Bob Knutson, who suggested the project didn't require a public subsidy to be successful.

"We've always been a last resort for financial resources to make (a) project happen. If people need the funds is one thing. What if they don't?"

Commissioner Dave Arnold was among several members who said the Port Authority needs to develop guidelines for what it does. "No matter what we've done in the past, we need to look at our role in these long-term deals." Arnold said the Port Authority has tried to help remove blighted properties and help projects that couldn't otherwise get all the financing needed.

"You have a strong plan, strong financials," he told Madigan.

Mayor Mark Dehen, who also sits on the Port Authority, said providing a long-term loan -- the day care was asking for a 20-year term -- wasn't the role of the city.

"A five-year startup (loan) to get over the hump. But a 20-year loan-- that takes us into the position of a bank," Dehen said.

In the end, the loan request was tabled and the Port Authority voted to have three members develop proposed guidelines to help guide the group in making decisions in the future. The proposed guidelines will be developed by Knutson, who is a financial adviser, Arnold, a farm implement business owner, and Duane Olenius, a bank vice president.

Madigan proposes building the 60-child day care on a lot that stretches along Timm Road from Lookout Drive to Rolling Green Lane. She earlier owned and sold the Peter Pan Preschool on Edgewood Boulevard, which became the Montessori Learning Center

She proposed the new day care after Beans Plus in upper North Mankato closed last year.

Madigan told the Port Authority she has a good track record with them, having repaid a previous loan on a day care center.

Madigan had earlier told The Free Press that she would not ask for any public assistance with building the new day care center.