Champaign-Urbana families will soon have a new option for balancing flexible work and childcare that sounds, well, revolutionary.
The organization that is behind the project – Moose International, best known for the Moose fraternal lodges – believes that it is.
“There is nothing like this in the world today,” said Scott D. Hart, Moose International’s chief executive officer, who is spearheading the project. “Every indication we have from our research is that young families are crying out for this and nobody is paying any attention to it.”
Lodgic Everyday Community will bring together — in one Champaign building — flexible, educational childcare; shared workspace that will cater to freelancers, remote workers and small business owners; and food service that includes farm-to-table dining as well as take-home options.
And all of it, Hart says, will be “best in class.”
Lodgic Everyday Community will make its debut next year in Champaign’s Illini Plaza, near the corner of Fox Drive and Neil Street. The group looked at 166 small- to medium-sized cities under 250,000 before narrowing down to selecting Champaign-Urbana as the first location for this new concept. It doesn’t hurt that Champaign-Urbana is just two hours down the road from Moose International headquarters, which is located near Aurora, Illinois.
“Champaign-Urbana was No. 1 because of the sense of community, the small business owners that are being spun out of the University of Illinois,” said Hart, whose wife Christie is a University of Illinois alumna. “We see this opportunity to step in and fill a void that exists in C-U and other university cities. These small metro cities are being overlooked.”
The flexible childcare is of interest to many parents in Champaign-Urbana, which currently lacks any year-round, drop-in childcare options. Hart says Lodgic Everyday Community has partnered with a company out of Colorado, Kidstown, that specializes in this model.
Childcare will be available for short-term or long-term needs, and even pay-as-you-go by the hour. It will be available for children starting at age 1 through 12. Hours have yet to be set officially, but the idea is that they will extend late in the evening (until 9 p.m. weeknights, 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday) – and all day Saturday. Date night? Shift worker? Student? Check, check, check.
“It’s something that doesn’t exist today,” Hart said, emphasizing that the childcare will be high-quality, licensed, and educational. “If you need childcare, traditional providers say, ‘You need to conform to us, we can’t conform to you.’ Moose is saying, ‘We want to cater to your lifestyle.’ Whatever you need, this place is totally flexible.”
As for the co-working community, the model will be the same; a hybrid of pay-as-you-go as well as membership opportunities available on long-term or short-term basis. There also will be private conference rooms available for rent, as well as event space.
They have designed a space for “family co-working”, where mom/dad can keep a child with them while they work, which will especially benefit families with children under 1.
“You’re not going to build your business in isolation,” Hart said. “You want to be around people who have the same drive and get those juices going. This will provide that atmosphere.”
Overall, the idea behind Lodgic Everyday Community is to “maximize a family’s time and meet the needs of the next generation,” Hart said. He also emphasized that all are welcome – from those that are starting out to retirees.
Lodgic Everyday Community is a spin out of Moose International, the fraternal lodge. Moose – which hasn’t had a presence in Champaign-Urbana since the local lodge closed in the mid-90s – has more than a million members worldwide. But like most fraternal service clubs and membership organizations (Lions Club, Rotary, American Legion, etc.), membership is in decline, and the demographics don’t look positive.
Lodgic Everyday Community isn’t meant to be an antidote or solution for the challenges of the traditional Moose lodge, Hart said.
“This is an extension, a fresh start that’s part of the Moose family and something that’s different and unique,” Hart said. “It’s a way for the Moose model to connect with the community, be a stronghold for working families and help care for children.”
Hart emphasizes that Lodgic Everyday Community will integrate itself into the Champaign-Urbana community. He is excited that it will create 50 new local jobs. As a non-profit, all of the profits will be funneled back into the charity; a portion will go to help Mooseheart, a residential childcare facility that is home for children and teens in need, located in Aurora. And, it’s a way to manifest Moose values into a new generation.
As for the building on South Neil Street, over the years the location has held a grocery store, a fitness center, and most recently, a financial services company. Officials say it will require a “total gut and redo” from the inside out.
The company has hired architects and designers to create something “totally fresh, totally new, totally modern.” A groundbreaking event will be held in October, but Lodgic Everyday Community will not open until late spring/early summer 2018.
The company plans to open Lodgic Everyday Community concepts in similar college town cities, and is looking at places including Madison, Wis.; Lexington, Ky.; Ann Arbor; and West Lafayette. But Champaign, Hart said, will be the flagship.
“It’s just one of those things where you’re going to have to come and see,” Hart said. “You’re not going to believe what is going to be under one roof.”
For more information on Lodgic Everyday Community and to keep up with its project, visit https://lodgic.org/