The next round of Bloom grants to promote trail tourism in seven York County Trail Towns is now open.
In June 2020, the York County Economic Alliance launched the trail towns program in five communities along the York County Heritage Rail Trail: York, Seven Valleys, Glen Rock, Railroad and New Freedom. The next year, Hanover and Wrightsville were added.
The program is focused on increasing trail tourism and supporting and encouraging businesses that provide services and amenities to the nearly 500,000 trail users who pass through these communities annually.
This round of Bloom grants will allocate $30,000, with grants up to $3,000 available for projects related to outdoor recreational users and/or to make the business more trail user-friendly, according to a release.
Examples include improved marketing and promotions targeted at recreational users; expanding inventory; physical improvements; and the addition of bike-friendly amenities.
For-profit enterprises are the intended beneficiary of the grants, but nonprofit organizations providing a specific service to outdoor recreational users may be eligible to apply. Nonprofits should contact the York County Economic Alliance first.
Businesses that have not received previous Bloom grant funding will be prioritized, along with Black, Indigenous and people of color-owned businesses. The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. March 7.
For-profit businesses that receive assistance through the Department of Community and Economic Development will have to offer paid sick leave under an executive order signed by Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday.
The order is an addition to a previous executive order by Gov. Wolf that ordered the department to require a minimum wage equal to the state’s minimum wage for government employees.
It is an effort by the Wolf Administration to tackle the state’s labor shortage and support Pennsylvania workers, Wolf said in a press release.
“With our economy on the comeback, there are so many job openings that people can select the option that is best for their family,” he said. “This is a critical moment for Pennsylvania workers, and it’s time we stop asking why there is a labor shortage and start asking how we can make jobs better. With Pennsylvanians renowned for our work ethic, this is an opportunity to improve jobs in the state, which will attract and retain hardworking people to live here and bring new industries to the commonwealth that want a talented, skilled and dedicated workforce.”
Along with directing DCED to enforce paid employee sick leave and continue its minimum wage requirements, the order also asks agencies under the Governor’s jurisdiction to review existing programs and program guidelines and consider imposing a minimum-wage requirement for their applicants for state funding.
The minimum wage for state workers is $13.50 and is set to hit $15 by July 1, 2024, which was part of an executive order signed by Wolf in 2018.
The order goes on to direct the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry and the Office of Administration to do a feasibility study of implementing Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards throughout state offices.
All state agencies are required to review and develop processes that ensure that businesses receiving grants are in compliance with Pennsylvania state labor and workforce safety laws.
“After COVID-19 exposed our workforce to a new set of dangers, it’s all the more important that we update statewide worker protections,” said Sen. Jay Costa. D-Allegheny County during a press conference on Thursday. “In so many industries, they were on the frontlines of COVID exposure without the equipment they needed to keep themselves safe, or the time off to heal if they got sick, let alone paid time off to care for sick loved ones. I’m here today in lockstep with the Governor’s commitment to this issue so that our workforce can thrive here in the Commonwealth.”
Organizations that have violated labor laws, misclassified their workers, owe unemployment compensation back taxes or fail to carry workers’ compensation insurance will be included in a publicly available list through the Department of Labor & Industry, according to the order.
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