ABINGDON, Va. (WJHL)- United Way of Southwest Virginia and the Wellspring Foundation of Southwest Virginia have partnered with Food City to obtain an 85,000-square-foot building that formerly housed a Kmart. The space will be used to create a Regional Child Care and Workforce Development Center.

The Wellspring Foundation of Southwest Virginia has committed $4 million towards the new facility. Bill Hayter, Chair of the Wellspring Foundation, said the project aligns with their goal.

“The creation of a regional child care center touches on all five of the areas of interest to the Wellspring Foundation of Southwest Virginia,” said Hayter. “It’s an honor to be able to provide support to a project of this magnitude that will have a transformational impact on our region.”

Travis Staton, President and CEO of United Way of Southwest Virginia, said this resource hub will have a big impact on the community.

“This building is going to be a tremendous asset for the region, for Southwest Virginia,” said Staton. “To be able to really help people get back to work, but also build a workforce of tomorrow.”

Staton said some issues the community faces are a decline in childcare centers and fewer employees in the workforce.

“This project will help address that gap in this community,” said Staton. “We’re working to identify additional locations where we will be adding in the future additional child care facilities.”

Part of the space will be used for youth and adult workforce development programming. About a fourth of the building will house an early childhood care center.

The United Way and The Wellspring Foundation said the lack of childcare is a big barrier for people to enter the workforce. Sean McMurray, Executive Director of the Wellspring Foundation, said this resource hub will help with those issues.

“There are a number of factors that include a lack of childcare,” said McMurray. “There are also other kinds of challenges, one is making sure we’ve got people trained with the skills that we need.”

The project is expected to be finished by the summer of 2024. More information is available online.