Our goal is to create a sustainable, equitable and dynamic economy that elevates well-being throughout the county.
In 2020, the City of York, the Downtown York Business Improvement District, the York County Planning Commission, and the York County Economic Alliance partnered with nationally known Fourth Economy Consultants to engage 1,000+ stakeholders in developing a common vision for equitable economic growth and a countywide 10-year strategic action plan, known as the Economic Action Plan or EAP.
In December 2020, the York County Commissioners unanimously approved the EAP and it was adopted as part of the county’s comprehensive plan. Since then, coalitions of stakeholders have helped advance the plan’s 142 total actions spread across 7 strategic focus areas.
Below you will find an overview of our progress in implementing this 10-year plan, along with some of the critical research and reporting developed to support its strategic goals.
Tracking implementation of a complex, 10-year plan isn’t easy, but we’ve been using an internal dashboard to keep track of our community’s progress and identify areas that need additional focus. Here’s a high-level overview of our progress by the numbers, updated as of December 2022. This data is updated quarterly.
White Rose Ventures & Braided River Collective
In the past two years, White Rose Ventures created an investment fund and has grown its portfolio to $3.9 million of equity investment in 9 companies. Braider River Collective has taken a regional approach to entrepreneurial support, re-launching the popular Keystone Merge series of meet ups to match start-ups to investment and initiating an ecosystem mapping project to better understand gaps in services for businesses in the region.
- Future of Industry | Strategy 2, Action 6
- Engines of Prosperity | Strategy 2, Actions 2 & 5
Economic Development Parcel Tool
The York County Planning Commission worked with the York County Economic Alliance to launch a dynamic and updateable inventory of all parcels that are vacant, zoned appropriately, and available for redevelopment. The tool, which is hosted in the YCPC GIS portal, empowers municipalities, developers and other stakeholders to better understand what development opportunities exist throughout the county and to provide another tool when speaking to businesses and community members about future development.
- Infrastructure & Built Environment | Strategy 1, Actions 1, 3, & 4
Bloom Business Empowerment Center
Launched formally in February 2022, BLOOM is a full suite of services aimed at supporting all small businesses and entrepreneurs, with an emphasis on those owned by women and people of color. In the past two years, more than 225 students have participated in BLOOM business classes and YCEA has raised more than $7 million to make BLOOM loans and grants available across York County.
- Future of Industry | Strategy 2, Action 3 & 4
- Entrepreneurship | Strategy 1, Action 5
As the largest green infrastructure project in the City of York’s history, the 1.4-mile Codorus Greenway will transform the City of York relationship to its primary natural resource—the Codorus Creek—by establishing new public access points to the water’s edge, multi-modal connections between schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, and public transit, and riparian buffers that provide water quality benefits to the regional watershed. A $25 million phase of the Codorus Greenway is now fully-funded and will move to construction as soon as federal permits from the Army Corps of Engineers are secured.
- Quality of Place | Strategy 1, Action 10
Early Childhood Education Awards
Public and private funders, in partnership with Childcare Consultants, joined forces to incentivize childcare workforce retention by making 311 awards totaling $458,862 to 63 programs impacting 4,086 children. In the process, the ECE Awards pilot became a statewide best practice in helping to address this critical issue that impacts quality of life, education, and barriers to employment.
- Workforce & Economic Mobility | Strategy 3, Action 3
Cultural & Outdoor Asset Assessment
The Cultural Alliance of York County engaged economic consulting firm Fourth Economy and a steering committee of stakeholders to assess York County’s arts, cultural and outdoor amenities, their impact on our region’s economy, and opportunities to better invest in these assets in the future. A signature element of the process was a dynamic Kumu map visualizing the relationships between creative and outdoor assets and organizations.
- Quality of Place | Strategy 1, Actions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, & 6
York County Trail Towns
The York County Trail Towns is now active in seven communities that are collectively working to enhance quality of place, embrace trail-based tourism, and grow their small business communities. Since its inception, the Trail Towns program has attracted $2.25 million in investment, welcomed 24 businesses into the Trail Friendly Business Program and awarded more than $40,000 in direct grants to help trail-oriented businesses and non-profits thrive.
- Quality of Place | Strategy 1, Action 11
YOCO Fiber Broadband Expansion
Thanks to a $25 million commitment from the York County Commissioners, several YoCo Fiber projects are now underway to build the first 144 miles of a countywide fiber middle mile network; free public wireless networks in the York and Hanover metro areas; and last-mile connections to home and businesses in four pilot communities in southern York County. These multi-year projects are a step towards closing the digital divide, which impacts our residents’ ability to access telehealth, remote work and education opportunities, and the ability to connect their businesses with the global economy.
- Rural Economy | Strategy 2, Actions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, & 6
EAP Research and Reports Guiding Our Work
Countywide Housing Study
In 2023, YCEA facilitated a coalition of stakeholders from across the housing market to assess current needs and conditions within the housing market. The study will inform the develop of strategies to address some of the more troubling findings related to housing cost burden, housing supply, and policy barriers to housing development.
Cultural & Outdoor Assets Strategy
In 2022, the Cultural Alliance of York County and the YCEA release a joint report documenting York County’s creative and outdoor sectors and identifying potential methods to better fund asset creation, maintenance and operations. Entitled Supporting York County’s Arts, Culture, and Outdoor Recreation Ecosystem, the report spurred the creation of a steering committee to help evaluate and advance alternative funding streams.
Since 2020, the York County Commissioners, with support from YCEA and the YoCo Fiber Broadband Task Force have been working to close the digital divide in York County by expanding fiber infrastructure in rural areas and increasing digital equity in urban areas.
Downtown York Development Plan
In 2021, the Downtown Development Group, a joint committee of Better York, Downtown Inc and YCEA, combined the countywide EAP with goals of the York Business Improvement District to produce a high-level Downtown Development Plan, for the 26 square block of Downtown York.
Covid Economic Impact Data
For three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), YCEA commissioned Fourth Economy to create an annual report documenting York County’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. This data informed the allocation of county CARES and ARPA funding; development of entrepreneurial support for women and BIPOC owned businesses; a commitment to improve childcare access; and more.
Quarterly Economic Reports
YCEA partners with the Center for Regional Analysis to produce a quarterly economic outlook report. This allows YCEA and our EAP partners to track economic conditions between the release of Census, BEA, and other occasional data sets.