Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

August 28, 2022

Jackson Lab proposes to build childcare center to recruit and retain employees

aerial of woods with color overlays Courtesy / Jackson Laboratory, Atlantic Resource Consultants, Cordjia Capital Projects Group The proposed childcare center, blocked in orange, would be built in a currently undeveloped area.

Jackson Laboratory is proposing to build a childcare facility at its Bar Harbor campus as a way to recruit and retain employees.

Representatives for the biomedical research institute, located on Route 3 on the outskirts of Bar Harbor’s downtown and adjacent to Acadia National Park, went before the Bar Harbor Planning Board in recent weeks to present a proposal for a wood-framed, single-story building of approximately 6,800 square feet.

It would serve approximately 53 children and 20 staff. 

The proposed facility, at the southern end of the campus in an undeveloped area, would include a fenced outdoor play space and a drop-off loop with 10 parking spaces, on a parcel that encompasses 21 acres. 

John Fitzpatrick, the lab’s senior director of facilities services, told the Planning Board at its meeting earlier this month, that affordable housing and childcare for employees are important issues for the lab.

“We see childcare as an essential part of our recruitment and retention strategy,” Fitzpatrick said. 

Building the facility is also envisioned as an opportunity to allow former employees, who had to leave the workforce because they couldn’t find childcare when the pandemic started, to return, he said. Bringing employees back to the campus would be an opportunity to boost the type of synergy and culture of collaboration that takes place in person, he added.

On-site childcare is considered an attraction for new employees as well, especially given the more than 125 job openings at the Bar Harbor campus, many of which have been open for quite some time, he said.

The lab would subcontract the Down East Family YMCA to run the facility, he said. The two organizations are partners in a childcare facility in Ellsworth, the Beechland Road Early Learning Center.

The proposed facility would be for lab employees. But if space is available, it will accept applications from the larger community as well, Fitzpatrick said.

“We think this offers an attractive benefit to our employees,” he said.

Fitzpatrick said the facility could free up capacity at other childcare facilities in the larger community.

The lab hired Bangor engineering firm Woodard & Curran Inc. for the project.

Fitzpatrick said surveys conducted by the lab show that the facility would have demand for 40 to 50 spots, for children up to age 4.

“We think we’ll be able to fill 40 right off the bat,” he said.

Currently, he added, some Bar Harbor employees drive their children to the Ellsworth childcare facility, then drive back to Bar Harbor for work, a round-trip of 40 miles.

“From an employment point of view and making this the place that people want to work, I think this is a wonderful concept,” said Planning Board member Ruth Eveland.

The board scheduled a public hearing on the proposal for Sept. 7.

The lab previously proposed working with the MDI YMCA to build a childcare facility on the YMCA site in Bar Harbor. That space would have been operated by the Down East Family YMCA in Ellsworth and funded by the lab.

But in April 20201, the lab and the MDI YMCA mutually agreed to discontinue those plans, citing cost escalations, according to a news release at the time.

Sign up for Enews

Related Content


Order a PDF