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Ashland Birth Center vying for $60,000 in national business competition

Owner Savita Jones said the center is collecting funds to buy the building they've been leasing for 10 years. Voting is open through Friday at barclayssmallbizbigwins.com.

Ashland Birth Center
The Ashland Birth Center at 619 Ninth Ave. West in Ashland.
Contributed photo / Ashland Birth Center
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ASHLAND — A Northland business is one of 10 finalists in the Barclays Small Business Competition, with a chance to win up to $60,000.

The Ashland Birth Center, which has been offering prenatal, labor and delivery and postpartum care in northern Wisconsin for 10 years, was selected as a finalist from more than 4,750 applicants who wrote about how their businesses adapted to the pandemic in 2021. Each business in the top 10 will receive at least $5,000, with prizes of $60,000, $40,000 and $20,000 for the top three business who receive the most online votes.

Voting is open at barclayssmallbizbigwins.com through Friday. Voting is free and can be done once per day.

Owner Savita Jones said the competition has come at a perfect time for the Ashland Birth Center. The birth center at 619 Ninth Ave. W. has welcomed more than 300 babies since 2012, but the owner they've been leasing from is now selling the building.

Jones said the center needs at least $55,000 by June to be able to put a down payment on the house to keep them there. So far this year, the center has received more than $36,000 in donations from community members.

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Savita Jones
Savita Jones
Contributed / Ashland Birth Center

“We have grown to just love and need the space in this area," Jones said. "We have delivered over 300 babies here and it’s perfectly located next to our hospital in a residential community, in a building that’s in our historical district.”

Having a freestanding birthing center has been a huge asset to the region, Jones said, especially amid the coronavirus pandemic. Jones and her team of licensed midwives and doulas were able to offer video session with clients for prenatal and postpartum care, and offered a safe space to receive care outside of a hospital.

“The consideration to have a baby out of hospital grew because of the pandemic. For us, as a small organization, we were really able to adapt quickly to the pandemic. We took that extra time to care for our families,” Jones said. "As hospitals were filled with sickness, lacking hospital beds, short-staffed and unable to welcome visitors, we were able to adapt quickly and provide safe and appropriate care."

The center is committed to providing care to underserved communities, and pays close attention to cultural preferences. They work closely with nearby Native American communities and several midwives and doulas at the center are Indigenous women.

“We are a little gem serving the needs of a broad region," Jones said. "We have people traveling to have their baby with us well over an hour in every direction."

The Ashland Birth Center's best year yet was 2021, and Jones hopes they'll be able to continue that momentum in the same space they've occupied since she opened the center. Jones has attended to more than 1,400 babies outside of hospitals in her 30 years as a midwife.

“In my mind, we are already winners. We have already won the $5,000 through the Barclays small business promotion, but we decided to take it further and do the best we can," Jones said. "This is an amazingly timed opportunity for us.”

Voting for the Barclay's Small Business Big Wins contest is open through April 22. The winners of the competition will be announced May 3. The center's team is also accepting donations for the building's down payment at ashlandbirthcenter.com .

Related Topics: ASHLANDBUSINESSSMALL BUSINESSHEALTH
Laura Butterbrodt covers health for the Duluth News Tribune. She has a bachelor of arts in journalism from South Dakota State University and has been working as a reporter in Minnesota and South Dakota since 2014.
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