Ottawa Area ISD and Outdoor Discover Center - Feb 13, 2024
February 13, 2024

Ottawa Area ISD and Outdoor Discover Center

Named Strategic Partners of the Year by Lakeshore Advantage

Holland, MI – Lakeshore Advantage recently awarded Ottawa Area ISD (OAISD) and ODC Network (ODC) with the inaugural Strategic Partner of the Year award. The award recognizes their work as trailblazing non-profit organizations that help overcome barriers to economic growth and opportunity by working together to open more childcare spots across the region. 

“As Ottawa and Allegan counties grow, so do the demands for quality childcare in the region,” Tami Mannes, Ph.D., Director of District Improvement and Early Childhood for OAISD said. “We are proud to partner with ODC and honored to receive this recognition as we continue to support families and children in the Ottawa Area.” 

To meet the growing needs for childcare in the region, ODC plans to add up to 1,000 new childcare spots by 2026 by leveraging grants and private funds from 30 community partners and area businesses to alleviate the shortage. 

“The ODC Network team is honored to be chosen as a co-strategic partner of the year along with the Ottawa Area ISD. Lakeshore Advantage and the Ottawa Area ISD are tremendous advocates for advancing education and our workforce,” Travis Williams, ODC Network CEO said. “We are proud of our growing impact on early childhood education, and the success we continue to experience is a direct result of the incredible work of the ODC Network staff and our community partners. We are stronger and better as a collaborative community. We truly appreciate this recognition and the Lakeshore Advantage Team.” 

OAISD is simultaneously working on a regional childcare planning project thanks to a grant from the Early Childhood Investment Corporation, a statewide leader in early childhood success. Together with Allegan Area Educational Services Agency, OAISD is working to identify existing childcare options in Allegan and Ottawa Counties to address gaps and invest in opportunities for the future. 

Ottawa and Allegan counties are the first- and fourth-fastest-growing counties in the state, respectively. Analysts have cited low unemployment rates—thanks to the region’s outstanding primary employers—as one reason for the growth. This significant growth has increased demand for housing, childcare, and workforce development. 

“Accessible and affordable childcare is critical to the region’s economic strength and allows parents to join or remain in the workforce and contribute economically to their families and the community,” Mandy Cooper, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives for Lakeshore Advantage, said. “We are proud to celebrate the great effort, leadership and teamwork of OAISD and ODC in the childcare space and their ongoing contributions that continue to make this area such a great place to live and work.” 

Students in the Careerline Tech Center Construction and Engineering Design & Machine Technologies programs collaborated to craft the awards given to recipients.