Adams County seeks to spark small businesses with loan program

To reach more retail and service industries in Adams County, the Adams Economic Alliance has started the Spark Loan Program. 

The revolving loan fund is aimed at helping small businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic by sparking investment and growth. 

The alliance comprises three organizations – Adams County Economic Development Corporation (ACEDC), Adams County Industrial Development Authority (ACIDA), and Adams County General Authority (ACGA). 

“Adams Economic Alliance is excited to offer the brand-new Spark Loan Program in our toolkit to support those industries most impacted by the pandemic,” Kaycee Kemper, vice president of Adams Economic Alliance, said in an email. 

Our focus is on the retail and service sectors and supporting socially economically disadvantaged individuals as business owners. One of the most beautiful aspects of the Spark Loan program, however, is its design–as a revolving loan fund that will continue to support and spark Adams County’s small businesses well into the future.” 

To be eligible, a small business must be for-profit and have less than 500 employees. All small businesses that meet requirements are eligible to apply. Among those particularly encouraged to apply are retail and service industries, along with socially and economically disadvantaged individuals (SEDI-owned businesses) and very small businesses (VSBs). 

Small business owners can use Spark Loans for the following: 

  • Acquire equipment or inventory. 
  • Acquire working capital. 
  • Pay soft, start-up or franchise costs. 
  • Produce, manufacture, or deliver goods or services. 
  • Purchase real estate, do construction, renovation, or tenant improvement. 
  • Refinance existing debt (conditions apply). 

As part of the Pennsylvania State Small Business Credit Initiative (PA-SSBCI), the Spark Loan Program was established with federal funding through the Federal State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). Reauthorized by the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the SSBCI was instituted as a response to the economic effects of the pandemic and is administered by the Department of the Treasury. 

Kemper said in a statement on the company’s site that as there “is strength in numbers, so the alliance developed a strategic plan and partnership with the EDC Finance Corporation, based in Lancaster, to administer these loans to the Adams and Lancaster County communities together.” 

The first round of funding available to qualified small businesses is $236,930 with two more tranches planned. 

“Once we begin the lending process, the program will constantly reseed and replenish itself, helping Adams County small businesses for years to come,” Kemper said.

Adams County to receive Xfinity 10G Network from Comcast

The extension of Xfinity 10G Network to nearly 100 residents and businesses in Carroll Valley Borough and Liberty and Mount Joy Townships in Adams County was announced Wednesday by Comcast. 

These areas now have access to Comcast’s full suite of services, including Xfinity residential broadband speeds up to 2 gigabits per second and Comcast Business speeds up to 100 Gbps. 

Ray Roundtree, senior vice president for Comcast’s Keystone Region, said the company is proud to extend its service deeper into Adams County. 

“Bringing high-speed and reliable Internet access to additional locations in Carroll Valley Borough and Liberty and Mount Joy Townships will help ensure that more residents and businesses have the important broadband connections they need for their educational, professional, and personal lives,” Roundtree said in a statement. 

Comcast has invested $2.4 billion into the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in recent years to improve and expand its network. In addition to the company’s latest investments in Adams County, the company is continuing work on its network expansion in Blair County, including Allegheny and Blair Townships, Duncansville, and Hollidaysburg. 

Carroll Valley Borough Manager Dave Hazlett noted the importance of gaining access to high-speed internet to connect with the economy. 

“Projects like this continue to help us make an already thriving community even stronger,” said Hazlett.

Committee advances bills, resolution to benefit PA veterans

Three measures, including one focused on helping veteran-owned businesses in Pennsylvania, have been approved by the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee. 

Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Adams/Franklin, chaired the committee and said the aim is to aid veterans who are seeking to start veteran-owned businesses. 

“Our veterans possess certain skills and abilities that can help them start and grow a business,” Mastriano said in a statement. 

The committee unanimously passed Senate Bill 438, which would authorize the creation of a special logo to promote veteran-owned businesses in Pennsylvania. A business must be registered with the Department of State and a veteran, reservist, or National Guard member must hold at least 51% of the ownership interest. 

Half of the registration and renewal fees would be used to benefit the Veterans’ Trust Fund, with the other half covering the program’s administrative costs. The Veterans’ Trust Fund issues grants to statewide charitable organizations assisting veterans and organizations that aid veterans. 

Sen. Camera Bartolotta, R-Beaver/Greene/Washington, said as it is not easy for veterans to transition to active service to civilian life, those who wish to run a business deserve support. 

“In addition to supporting our veterans, this program would also support the creation of new jobs and business opportunities,” Bartolotta said. 

The bill would discourage the logo from being used fraudulently by ensuring that a person would face criminal penalties if they falsely claimed to be a veteran for the purpose of obtaining the designation. 

“This special logo would be another way for customers to find and support local veteran-owned businesses in their communities,” Mastriano said. “This would be a new way for businesses to highlight their status as a veteran-owned operation.” 

Also advancing is Senate Bill 531, which is aimed at altering the membership of the committee that administers the Veterans’ Trust Fund under the jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. 

Under the bill, the Republican and Democrat chairs of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee and Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee would be added to the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs internal review committee, which administers the grant program. 

Senate Resolution 46 was also approved by the committee. The resolution calls for the creation of a Task Force on Women Veterans’ Health Care. As Pennsylvania is home to close to 60,000 women veterans, the task force would study health issues facing women veterans and make recommendations to the governor and General Assembly. 

“Men and women have different medical needs, and we want to make sure female veterans receive medical care tailored to their own requirements,” said Mastriano. “We want our female veterans to receive the best possible care that recognizes the inherent difference between men and women.” 

The two bills and resolution advance to the full Senate for consideration.

Adams County warehouse sold for more than $11M

The Keurig Dr. Pepper Distribution Center, a 218,000-square foot industrial property at 2105 Carlisle Road in Aspers, Adams County, sold for $11.25 million, according to commercial real estate broker Marcus & Millichap, which listed the property.

The buyer was the Lightstone Group, a limited liability company. The unidentified seller is a personal trust.

“The Adams County economy relies upon the manufacturing and food services industries,” Mher Vartanian, a vice president of investments in Marcus & Millichap’s Philadelphia office, said in a release. “Its centralized location provides easy access to several metros and makes it an ideal location for warehousing. Keurig Dr. Pepper has deep ties to the Aspers area, having been a tenant at the property for over 39 years and operating an over 600,000-square-foot bottling plant less than a mile away.”

“Our team has still been able to get transactions across the finish line even in a high-interest rate environment,” added Craig Dunkle, senior vice president of investments. “This continues to prove that there still is strong demand for net-leased industrial properties.”

“We’d also like to thank both Jack Ford and Brain Underkofler from the Lightstone Group for their tireless efforts in consummating this transaction,” he added. “It was a true team effort working with both the buyers and sellers to bring this purchase to a successful close of escrow.”

New York City-based Lightstone develops, manages and invests in all sectors of the real estate industry, its website said, with a portfolio of more than 182 properties in 26 states.

Marcus & Millichap closed 12,272 transactions in 2022, with a sales volume of approximately $86.3 billion.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Jersey Mike’s Chambersburg, Gettysburg locations to host ‘Day of Giving’

Wednesday, March 29, will see participating Jersey Mike’s locations in Adams and Franklin counties hosting their annual “Day of Giving” in which 100% of purchases are donated to a local charity. 

The local charity selected to receive 100% of all purchases on Wednesday’s “Day of Giving” is South Central Community Action Programs, Inc. (SCCAP). All App, on-line, and in-store purchases made Wednesday in Jersey Mike’s Chambersburg and Gettysburg locations will be donated to SCCAP. 

“We are so grateful,” SCCAP Resource Development Director Cheryl Brown said in a release. “SCCAP provides services in both Franklin and Adams counties so to be chosen to receive 100% of all purchases in both counties is truly amazing.” 

Brown thanked Erin Cohan, franchise owner of the Chambersburg and Gettysburg Jersey Mike’s shops, for her contributions to SCCAP. 

“It is thanks to her commitment to our mission that SCCAP will receive this incredible gift,” Brown said. 

Jersey Mike’s has been celebrating “March Month of Giving” across the country. Jersey Mike’s is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. 

New business wants to put smart technology in seniors’ hands

Ambient Home, a new company headquartered in Adams County, has released its smart home technology for senior living communities, with the goal of making it easier for residents to live comfortably and independently.

The innovative platform integrates a variety of smart devices, such as temperature control systems, voice assistants, lighting and locks, and unites them into a single application. Seniors control the platform through voice commands, a mobile app or a switch flip or key. Residents can also share access, allowing family members or facility staff to assist them with select devices.

John Gallo, chief operating officer of Ambient Home, said in a phone interview that what makes the system different is the shared access.

He said the New Oxford-based company, which formed last April but is fully launching now, has so far done one demo for a local senior living community.

Ambient Home plans to focus on central Pennsylvania first – with its plethora of retirement communities and national headlines promoting it as a retirement destination.

“It’s fantastic,” Gallo said of the area. Central Pennsylvania “is definitely a prime place to start” a business of this type.

He and CEO Alex Louderback complement each other, Gallo said. Louderback is a programmer by nature, and Gallo has the business and marketing bona fides, including an MBA from York College.

“At Ambient Home, our goal is to help facilities provide seniors with the highest quality of life possible,” Louderback said in a release. “Our innovative smart home technology aims to revolutionize the senior living industry by providing a safe, comfortable and connected experience for seniors.”

Ambient Home is committed to meeting the needs of the region’s – and country’s – increasing senior population through its cutting-edge technology and top-notch technical support.

“We support both residents and staff with training and technical support to ensure everyone can use the platform to better the lives of residents,” Gallo added in the release.

“Our goal is to help seniors leverage technology to help them stay safe and maintain their freedom.”

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Area businesses receive loans to spur business, create and retain jobs

Businesses in Adams, Lancaster, and York counties are receiving new low-interest loans through the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA). 

The PIDA loans will be used to spur and support business growth and will total more than $6.8 million and help create and retain 157 jobs. The loans were announced Wednesday by Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Acting Secretary Rick Siger. 

“A PIDA loan is a great tool to help companies succeed and thrive here in Pennsylvania,” Siger said in a statement. “The loans will help boost business growth and generate jobs – a benefit to our economy, our communities, and our livelihoods across the Commonwealth.” 

In Adams County, Hickory Bridge Farm, Inc., through the Adams County Economic Development Corporation, was approved for a 15-year, $71,866 loan at a 4.75-percent fixed interest rate to renovate a 6,500-square-foot building located behind the existing restaurant and event venue located at 96 Hickory Bridge Road, Orrtanna, Hamiltonban Township. 

The project includes the purchase and installation of a new HVAC system for the renovated building. The total cost of the project is $145,135. The company will retain seven jobs. 

In Lancaster County, Rock Lititz, LLC, through EDC Finance Corporation, was approved for a 15-year, $2,250,000 loan at a 3.75-percent reset interest rate to construct a 133,600-square-foot multi-occupancy building located at 400 Rock Lititz Boulevard, Warwick Township. 

This project is the fifth loan award the company has received from PIDA since 2015. The new condo will house three tenants – TAIT, Clair Global Corporation, and Major Mega – all part of the live event industry. The project cost is $15,392,926. 

In York County, R & S Fence Co., through the York County Economic Development Corporation, was approved for a 15-year, $1,575,000 loan at a 3.75 percent reset interest rate to develop a 10-acre site located on York Road, Carroll Township to house the company’s new operations. 

Site work, construction of a 15,000-square-foot fabrication building, and a 9,860-square-foot office and showroom are included in the project. The cost of the project is $4,251,000. The company will retain 13 full-time jobs and create eight new full-time jobs within three years.

Adams Alliance helps Gettysburg entrepreneurs purchase historic property

Aided by a $428,000 Small Business Administration (SBA) 504 loan facilitated by Adams Economic Alliance, Gettysburg entrepreneurs Timbrel and Scott Wallace purchased the property which houses their gift shop, Lark – A Modern Marketplace. 

Located at 17 Lincoln Square, the historic property dates to the 1800s. The Wallaces tapped into the low-interest SBA 504 loan to purchase the property through their Wallace Real Estate Group LLC, with banking partner PNC Bank. 

“When Timbrel and I think about it on a personal level, we’re securing our future with the purchase of this property,” Scott Wallace said in a statement. “And because the SBA loan requires a smaller down payment, it frees up capital to expand our business in other ways—making the process much more affordable and less risky for us.” 

The property at 17 Lincoln Square also houses tenants Gettysburg Baking Company, nonprofit arts organization Waldo’s & Company and two apartments. Since launching Lark, the Wallaces have started two additional Gettysburg businesses, the youth-driven game shop Nerd Herd Gifts & Games and guy gift shop Oh, Man! Currently in its 11th year in business, Lark features home décor, artwork, jewelry, candles and unique, hand-crafted products. 

“The Alliance salutes the Wallaces for their entrepreneurial spirit, which adds to the vitality of downtown Gettysburg, as well as Adams County,” said Alliance President Robin Fitzpatrick. “We know that small businesses have a huge and wonderful impact on our local and state economies—in fact, for every $100 spent at a small business, studies show that $48 goes back into the local economy. Any time our organization can assist and support Adams County entrepreneurs, it’s a win-win for business owners and the entire community alike.” 

Federally funded, the SBA 504 loan program offers 10, 20 or 25-year terms with fixed rates lower than conventional rates, that can be applied to real estate, machinery and equipment purchases.

Through their partnership with EDC Finance Corporation of Lancaster, this is the ninth SBA 504 loan Alliance has processed since 2019. Previous SBA 504 loans were used for the following: 

  • Environmental testing company Laboratory, Analytical & Biological Services (LABS) of New Oxford move from East Berlin and renovate its new facility. 
  • A series of expansions at Precision Cut Industries, Conewago Township, one of the largest laser-cutting contract manufacturing facilities on the East Coast. 
  • Shoe Orthodontics, Hanover, to recently expand and renovate their practice. 

Alliance Vice President Kaycee Kemper said the unique formula of the SBA 504 loan makes it advantageous. 

“It allows businesses the ability to borrow up to 90% of the loan amount, combined with low interest rates, so that all the partners—the business, lenders and community—have every chance at future success,” said Kemper.

Main Street Gettysburg gets grant for Façade Improvement Program

Main Street Gettysburg has received a $50,000 Keystone Community Grant to further support its Façade Improvement Program that helps rehabilitate commercial buildings in Gettysburg’s historic downtown district.

The nonprofit organization applied to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development for the grant, which is from the Keystone Communities Program.

This is the fourth round of the façade grant program. The first three administered by Main Street Gettysburg provided grants for 26 projects, distributing $80,000 that generated $276,111 total in investments.

Basic guidelines include:

· Buildings must be within the historic district of Gettysburg.

· Applications must include project descriptions and estimates.

· Only projects on the application are eligible.

· Projects must be approved by the Historic Architecture Review Board.

· Projects require a 1:1 match, up to $5,000 ($10,000 total project).

“Main Street Gettysburg is excited to bring back this generous program to support local businesses in our historic district,” Main Street President Jill Sellers said in a release. “… Local interest and support were the driving forces behind the award.”

The formal application process, which will begin in January, is the next step.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

CTCs in Central Pa., Lehigh Valley awarded grants to purchase new equipment

Career Technical Centers in Central Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley are among the 33 CTCs and two school districts to receive competitive grants to purchase new equipment aligned to training students in high-demand occupations. 

Awarded by the Wolf Administration, the grants total $1.2 million in career and technical education equipment. The funding was announced Wednesday by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). 

CTCs in Central Pennsylvania and Lehigh Valley received approximately $300,000 in grants. 

“Career and technical centers continually provide excellent educational and professional opportunities for students across the commonwealth,” Acting Secretary of Education Eric Hagarty said in a statement.

“Investing in career readiness and career exploration is a priority for PDE, and we encourage recipients to utilize this funding to enhance and expand these learning programs, which will help students excel in their chosen fields.” 

More than 80 CTCs in Pennsylvania offer a combination of classes and hands-on learning in programs approved by the PDE. Students can earn industry credentials or certifications for local jobs in high demand. 

Area awardees and their funding amounts include the following: 

  • Adams County – Adams County Technical Institute, $47,500. 
  • Berks County – Berks CTC, $23,229. 
  • Cumberland County – Cumberland Perry Area Career & Technical Center, $26,935. 
  • Dauphin County – Dauphin County Technical School, $50,000. 
  • Lancaster County – Lancaster County Technical School, $50,000. 
  • Lehigh County – Lehigh Career & Technical School, $50,000. 
  • York County – York Co. School of Technology, $50,000. 

The maximum grant under the program is $50,000, and every grant must be matched dollar-for-dollar from a local source, which can include local school funds or contributions from business and industry partners.