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Area company donates to Leo Augusta

Steele County Times - Staff Photo -

When Justin Akkerman came back to the Austin area in 2014 after being away for many years, he saw first-hand how quality childcare is tough to find.
So when the opportunity came up for Akkerman’s family-owned business to support a new childcare center in the area, Akkerman didn’t think twice about helping out.
Akkerman Inc., a worldwide manufacturing company based in Brownsdale, has made a donation to the Leo Augusta Children’s Academy, a new childcare education center currently under construction at the old Minimizer corporate headquarters on the north edge of Blooming Prairie.
“There has always been a need for this type of facility,” said Akkerman. “Someone is actually doing something about it, and we want to be behind it.”
As part of its donation, Akkerman will be adopting the center’s STEAM room for the next three years. STEAM education is an approach to learning that uses science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. Akkerman’s logos and signage will be used in the room as a way to promote their company to parents and get children thinking about manufacturing as a career.
“We are real excited about this partnership with Akkerman,” said Amy Hinzmann, board chair of Leo Augusta. “We are so appreciative. We think it will be the beginning of something fantastic.”
Leo Augusta’s partnership with Akkerman is exactly what the board has envisioned in bringing business and other organizations on board with the center, said Hinzmann. “This is a partnership with the community,” Hinzmann said, noting the center is more than just providing a place for children where they will be safe and nurtured. 
While Akkerman is the first company to step forward to get involved with the center, Hinzmann said it “certainly won’t be the last.”
In addition to the STEAM room, there are eight other classrooms, project room, gymnasium and commercial kitchen available for naming rights, according to Hinzmann.
“Each of the rooms have the potential to partner with someone,” said Doug Anderson, director of Leo Augusta. Not only are the rooms available for sponsors, but also the furnishings and equipment can be adopted by families, groups and organizations, he said.
“We can get creative and develop something that will work for both parties,” Anderson said. “We will accommodate most anything.”
Leo Augusta launched a $3 million capital fundraising campaign late last year. To date, the nonprofit organization has raised around $1.4 million, or 42% of its goal, Hinzmann said.
The center has hired many staff members who will begin training next month with the center slated to open in early June.
Once Leo Augusta is open, Akkerman is confident that the center will help attract people to live in the region, which he finds as a bonus in a tough work force where it’s hard to find employees.
Akkerman encourages other companies to support Leo Augusta.
“If you have the feeling that it’s the right thing, do it,” Akkerman said.

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