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Small business key to future in York CountyLesser-known but established companies solidify county's outlook

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Not every business is as large or well-known as Harley-Davidson, WellSpan York Hospital or Utz potato chips.

But all of those smaller businesses out there are just as important to York County’s business success as the top ones, Loren Kroh said.

“We have plenty of businesses that have been around for generations and kind of go unnoticed,” said Kroh, who for most of 2016 has been interim president and CEO of the York County Economic Alliance, the county’s economic-development organization.

“And I would argue that a lot of our future prosperity is going to come from these companies that are being formed now, and taking root, and as they grow, they’ll make a much more significant contribution to the community,” Kroh said.

The key to York County’s business future also lies in companies that perhaps aren’t as well-known as Harley, Wolfgang Candy or others, he continued.

“We all have read about (large employer) Johnson Controls moving down to the Shrewsbury exit … well, they’re moving down to an area where we have some established businesses, like Oakworks,” one of the world’s largest manufacturers of top-end spas, Kroh pointed out.

He also cited others like Bimax, a chemical company in the Glen Rock area that creates one of the base ingredients for contact lenses, or downtown York’s Benjamin & Bond, which does high-end consulting in the health-care industry.

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“There’s a whole new, exciting entrepreneurial spirit bubbling here,” Kroh said.

According to the YCEA, nearly 31,000 York Countians, or more than one in six employees, work in manufacturing, followed by the fields of: health care and social assistance (24,566); retail (21,378); local government (14,873); and accommodations and food service (13,658).

Kroh, who will step aside as YCEA head when current state Rep. Kevin Schreiber begins as president and CEO of the alliance on Dec. 1, is hoping his organization can soon begin what he calls “a thoughtful and comprehensive economic plan for the community with a vision for five, seven, 10 years out.

“What do we want this place to look like? What’s the comprehensive mix of industries we want York County to have? You need to recognize that this isn’t a case of ‘click your heels and a technology company springs up.’ It’s a long process to attract the businesses that you want.”
Other top business story lines in the York County area include the influx of restaurants and residents to downtown York, the emergence of Hanover as a restaurant and brew-pub destination and the continuing growth along the Interstate 83 corridor in towns like Shrewsbury and in the county’s northern end.
Anne Druck, president of the York County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the county also is seeing the growth of thriving sports-tourism and “winery/agro-tourism” industries in York County.
Recent events like an eastern-U.S. regional girls’ softball tournament that drew participants from several states and the Keystone State Games are among the events expected to generate over $20 million in sports visitor spending in York County this year, Druck added.l

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David O'Connor

David O'Connor

Dave O'Connor covers York County, higher education, nonprofits, and workforce development. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at davido@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @DaveOC_CPBJ.

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