Leaders in York County hope to build on its manufacturing sector, find ways to use the Susquehanna River to boost the county’s economy and even develop a plan for where the economy should go in the next decade or two.
Those ideas were among the highlights of a “State of the County” summit held Tuesday night at Spring Grove Area High School.
The event had not been held for a decade until it was revived this year by York County commissioners and Kevin Schreiber, president and CEO of the York County Economic Alliance.
“We have a tremendous opportunity” to study ways of tapping into the Susquehanna, Schreiber said after the two-hour summit, which attracted about 200 people.
County leaders in 2018 also want to start to develop “an economic vision plan, where we want to be in 10 years, 20 years,” Schreiber added.
The plan is likely to lean heavily on manufacturing, which remains strong in York County despite national fears that the sector is sliding.
Nearly one in five people in the York County workforce is employed in advanced manufacturing – nearly twice the national average – and the county can be considered “a national model of excellence in our ability to retain and evolve manufacturing,” Schreiber said.
But more can be done to boost the county’s economy, and they will be looking at ways to do just that over the coming year, Schreiber and county officials said.
Schreiber, who took the helm as York County’s top economic official last December, called the public presentation “a good opportunity to showcase and celebrate York,” and joined county commissioners Susan Byrnes (the president commissioner), Doug Hoke and Chris Reilly at the session.
“The state of our county is strong,” Schreiber told the audience, noting that 223,000 workers out of a possible workforce of 234,000 are employed, and that York County’s location – close to the largest metropolitan areas on the East Coast – and its cost of living “will continue to position our county well for success.”
But, he added, “We also know that we need to be forecasting the rise of automation and the changing trends that impact our economy.”
Hoke, meanwhile, said he would like to see the revitalization of downtown York continue.
“I like the way the city is turning around,” he said after the event. “I think there’s a lot of energy and synergy in the whole community. I’m excited about the future.”
York County has created more than 5,000 new jobs in the last five years, and it has a lower unemployment rate and higher median household income than the state averages, Schreiber said.