SOUTHERN CITY OF SIOUX – Good ideas stay good ideas, no matter how long it takes to materialize.
In 2012, Michael Bayala wanted to help his clients, many of whom were local factory workers and immigrants, and their families with childcare and education.
He envisioned a 24-hour day care center so parents working at night had a stable source of child care. In addition, educators would help children with reading, math and other basic subjects to give them a boost.
“When I have something in mind, I want to do it,” Bayala said.
It may have taken a few years, but Bayala succeeded.
Thanks to a lot of hard work and an unexpected hand from a well-known Siouxland company, Bayala plans to open the Bayala Learning Center and Daycare next month at 2219 Dakota Ave. in South Sioux City. This is a suitable location given that the building once housed the South Sioux City Public Library and more recently the South Sioux City Community School District Visitor Center.
It’s a long-held dream come true for Bayala, whose voice rises with excitement when spoken of.
“It’s something that I love by nature,” he said. “I love helping children. One of my slogans is to build the next generation.”
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Translation, Immigration & Income Tax Assistance Services owner Bayala, who arrived in the United States in 1992 from West African country Burkina Faso and moved to Sioux City in 2008, learned about difficulties encountered by families in preparing their taxes. With some factories producing around the clock, it can be difficult for workers to find child care services. Many Bayala clients could not take advantage of the child care credit on their tax returns because they had family members or friends watching their children and could not document the child care payments. children.
Bayala believed that a 24-hour daycare would benefit these parents as well as their employers, making it easier for workers to get to work when they have strong childcare arrangements.
“I want to help the industry here so that the people who work there can leave their children behind at all times,” he said.
He started working on a business plan, which turned out to be the easy part. Finding a place was another story. Unable to find a suitable space in Sioux City, he turned to South Sioux City, where the vacant building on Dakota Avenue belonging to the school district caught his eye.
His efforts to buy the building weren’t going well, so a friend put him in touch with Lance Morgan, CEO of Ho-Chunk Inc., the Winnebago tribe of the Nebraska development company. The pair had coffee in Morgan’s office one morning in May 2019, and after hearing about Bayala’s plans and efforts to buy a building, Morgan said he was willing to help.
“I thought he was telling me just to make me feel good,” Bayala said.
Imagine what Bayala felt this summer when he learned that Ho-Chunk Capital’s subsidiary, HCI Real Estate, had purchased the building on Dakota Avenue and would rent it out in Bayala so it could open its center.
“It seemed like the right thing to do,” said Morgan, who said he faced similar challenges while getting Ho-Chunk off the ground. “I just identified with (Bayala) a little bit. He didn’t ask for a handout, he just asked for an opportunity. I admire the work he does.”
With a secure location, Bayala has tapped into its own pockets to reshape the interior of the building. Illness has held back Bayala’s progress, but he is confident for the December opening. At the end of October, 15 children were enrolled in the nursery.
“I am very confident that it will open up,” Bayala said.
Plans call for up to 96 children in the morning and another 96 in the evening when the staff is full. Once the daycare is established, Bayala will launch the learning center. He hopes to eventually employ 30 to 35 caregivers and educators.
A recent tour of the building showed that the classrooms were taking shape, although there was still work to be done. Bayala doesn’t let that dampen his enthusiasm that a center over nine years in the making will soon become a reality. It is a dream come true for him and, he hopes, for the families who need the services he will provide.
“I want to leave a legacy that he tried and succeeded,” Bayala said.
Time will tell if Bayala’s effort is successful. With the time and work invested in it so far, this is a good start.