Developers seek childhood development center operator for Mt. Carroll’s Shimer Square

Metcalf Hall was the administration building for Shimer College when it was located in Mt. Carroll. The property is now known as Shimer Square, a housing and business incubation development. It was announced last week that the development will receive a $1.5 million Rebuild Illinois Capital grant. Metcalf Hall was built in 1907.

MOUNT CARROLL – Economic Growth Corp. is inviting state-licensed child care operators to submit proposals for leasing and operating an early childhood development center within its Shimer Square campus.

To access the full request for proposals, interested operators can visit or contact Beth Payne at or 309-794-6711, according to a news release.

As part of Economic Growth Corp.’s ongoing revitalization efforts at Shimer Square, the early childhood development center aims to create jobs and meet the increasing demand for quality child care services for families residing within a 30-minute radius of Mount Carroll.

Focused on creating a nurturing environment conducive to learning and development, the center will cater to children who are newborns to age 5, with the operator offering a variety of child care programs and services. Spanning about 5,000 square feet, the facility will include classrooms with optimal staff-to-child ratios, a kitchen area, bathrooms, office space and an outdoor play area.

To ensure the center adheres to the highest standards of care and education, Economic Growth Corp. seeks proposals from experienced state-licensed child care operators to lease and operate the facility. Interested operators are encouraged to attend a pre-proposal meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday, May 9, at 203 E. Seminary St., Mount Carroll. During this session, operators will have the opportunity to tour the campus and the site of the new construction facility, which soon will break ground, and engage with Economic Growth Corp. representatives.

Key details regarding the proposal process are as follows:

  • Proposal submission deadline: Proposals must be submitted electronically to Economic Growth Corp. Senior Vice President Beth Payne at no later than 5 p.m. Friday, May 24. Late submissions will not be accepted.
  • Facility specifications: The newly constructed facility will start construction in the next 30 days and will span about 5,000 square feet. It includes classrooms, a kitchen, bathrooms, office space and an outdoor play area.
  • Lease agreement: The selected proposer will enter into a lease agreement with Economic Growth Corp. and its wholly owned subsidiary, Shimer Square NC LLC. Lease terms will be negotiated.

“We’re encouraged by the resounding support for an early childhood development center within Shimer Square,” said Brian Hollenback, president and CEO of Economic Growth Corp. “Our efforts align with local, state and national priorities. We recognize the vital role that child care plays in supporting families and fostering the healthy growth of communities and the development of young children. By partnering with an experienced child care operator, we aim to establish a center of excellence that creates vital jobs while also meeting the diverse needs of working families living within 30 minutes of Shimer Square.”

“We are committed to partnering with operators who share our mission of job creation and community-focused dedication, aimed at providing high-quality child care services and fostering a nurturing environment where children can thrive,” Payne said.

Part of Economic Growth Corp.’s endeavor lies in the inclusion of a much-needed early childhood development center. In response to community demands, Economic Growth Corp. pursued funding opportunities, resulting in a significant grant of $800,000 awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Community Services through its Community Economic Development program.

This grant, announced in October 2022 by former U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, underscores the importance of Shimer Square’s revitalization on a state and national scale, emphasizing the creation of jobs and increased access to early child care services, according to the release.

Economic Growth Corp. and the city of Mount Carroll conducted a comprehensive feasibility study in 2023 to explore the viability of integrating an early childhood development center within Shimer Square. The results strongly demonstrated the need for such facilities within the region, further fueling the ongoing revitalization efforts.

The findings of the market study, which supported the initiative, have been made available to the public. An executive summary showcasing the demand for an early childhood development center can be accessed at The complete feasibility study is available upon request, subject to the signing of a nondisclosure agreement.

To learn more about Shimer Square, visit For additional information about Economic Growth Corp., visit

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