The nine organizations represent about 3,000 workers, including 700 with children, Peters said. The workers have a total of 1,100 children, Sheridan said.
The plan is to make the Children First Child Development Center available to those who work for the businesses, hospital and agencies involved and to the public, Sheridan said.
"We really do hope this will be a model. We hope this will be a challenge to other businesses to see what they can do," said Sheridan, who has opened 18 day-care centers for private business in the country.
The five private companies involved in the effort are in the Bardane and Burr industrial parks along W.Va. 9 about five miles west of Charles Town. They include Royal Vendors Inc., AB&C Group, Automated Merchandising Systems, DALB Inc., Norm Thompson Inc. and Schonstedt Instruments. Also involved are Jefferson Memorial Hospital, Jefferson County Schools, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Fruit Research Station.
The group hopes to fund the day-care center by raising about $250,000 from local businesses and securing up to $400,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission, Sheridan said. The rest would come through a tax-exempt loan, she said.
Construction on the center could begin as early as next year, Sheridan said.
The center will be more than a place for children to stay, said Larry LaBrier, president of Royal Vendors, which took the lead in the effort.
The first three years are critical to a child's development, and the center will offer a curriculum that will teach toddlers concepts such as how to identify shapes and characters, LaBrier said.
"It's not just baby-sitting," LaBrier said.
Organizers hope to offer services to children up to age 10, Sheridan said.
"We're looking to give children a real leg up on adulthood," added Sheridan.
Plans call for the center to have six classrooms and three playgrounds to serve the various age groups, Sheridan said.
Some companies have already built day-care centers.
In Hagerstown, Citicorp Credit Services operates a 58,000-square-foot day-care center. Citicorp employs many working mothers, and they like the idea of having their children close by while they are working, said Citicorp spokesman Phil Kelly.
Citicorp's day-care center, the largest corporate sponsored day-care in the U.S., serves about 480 youngsters, Kelly said.
The proposed Children First Child Development Center is modeled after the Heritage Child Development Center at Berryville Graphics in Berryville, Va., Sheridan said.