BLOOM Grant Program opens for York small businesses

The 2023 BLOOM Grant Program for Small Businesses Based in Boroughs in York County opens today, the BLOOM Business Empowerment Center announced through the York County Economic Alliance. 

The program remains open through June 9. Grants up to $1,500 will be awarded to small businesses located and operating in a York County borough for projects designed to improve productivity, expand services, and encourage growth. 

Projects funded through BLOOM include physical improvements to business location, marketing, improving signage, the purchase of new equipment, and training and certification for new services. 

The following will receive priority consideration: 

  • Businesses that have not received funding from previous BLOOM grant programs. 
  • Businesses owned by women, or Black, Indigenous, or people of color. 
  • Businesses owned by veterans. 
  • Designated York County Trail Towns Friendly Businesses. 

Created in 2018 to help businesses improve productivity, expand services, or grow to the next level, BLOOM Grants numbering 170 have totaled $387,978 that has been distributed to small businesses/organizations in York County, Downtown York, York County Trail Towns communities. 

Grant recipients include women-owned businesses, start-up entrepreneurs, and graduates of BLOOM classes. Women-owned businesses have received 70% of the grants, and 53% have gone to persons of color. 

An informational webinar will be held May 23 at 5:30 p.m. via Zoom. Applicant finalists are required to participate in a virtual pitch competition on June 20.

Shapiro’s visit to York farm emphasizes importance of Pa.’s rural economy

Gov. Josh Shapiro drew a direct connection between the work of Pennsylvania’s farmers and the food in stores and on tables during a recent tour of Flinchbaugh’s Orchard and Farm Market in Hellam in York County. 

“I believe Pennsylvania can be the top organic farming state in the nation, but we need to give our farmers the resources and support they need to make it happen,” Shapiro said last Friday. “It’s our responsibility to make sure the next generation of Flinchbaughs have the opportunity to continue that legacy, and we can only do it by working together.” 

Mike Flinchbaugh, co-owner of Flinchbaugh’s Orchard and Farm Market, said the Shapiro Administration’s support of agriculture will “give us what we need in terms of resources to move forward in Pennsylvania.” 

During their tour, Shapiro and Department of Agriculture Acting Secretary Russell Redding spoke of the Shapiro Administration’s plans to invest in Pennsylvania agriculture via the following: 

  • Funding to protect valuable farmland. 
  • Agricultural emergency preparedness and response. 
  • Expanding organic farming throughout the state. 

The agriculture sector contributes $132 billion a year to Pennsylvania’s economy and makes up 1 in 10 jobs in the state. Pennsylvania ranks third nationally in organic sales, more than $1 billion last year, and lists more than 1,100 certified organic farms across the state. Shapiro’s budget proposes a $1 million investment for the creation of a new Organic Center of Excellence to build on Pennsylvania’s organic leadership. 

In addition, the budget proposes the following investments to support farmers and the agriculture industry: 

  • $31 million to help poultry farmers impacted by the avian flu crisis pay for testing and get reimbursed. 
  • $13.8 million to fully fund the Pennsylvania Farm Bill for the fifth year. 
  • $2.5 million for the Farmland Preservation Program that helps ensure that resources for counties will be available to produce food and feed Pennsylvania’s economy. 
  • A $2 million investment in the Fresh Food Financing Initiative will contribute to better health outcomes by improving access to PA-grown, processed, and produced foods. 
  • $1 million to create a new Organic Center of Excellence, which will improve the state’s ability to support this sector of the industry. 
  • $500,000 to create a Center for Plant Excellence that will expand supply chain opportunities and boost resources available to Pennsylvania’s diverse plant industries. 
  • $200,000 investment for farmer mental health will provide support services such as a mental health hotline, specialized training, and outreach to the agricultural community. 

York County Economic Alliance President and CEO Kevin Schreiber said Shapiro’s visit highlights the importance of the rural economy in York County and in Pennsylvania. 

“Financing farms, providing access to capital resources, and investing in broadband infrastructure to connect communities are all proposed in this budget and are vital to our commonwealth’s competitiveness,” Schreiber said.

Five York County projects receive millions in funding

Funding totaling $13 million from Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program has been approved for five York County projects, state Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York, announced Monday. 

The Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program is a state grant program administered by the Office of the Budget for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational, and historical improvement projects. 


Hill-Evans said the projects mark a major investment by the state in the York region. “In the education, health, and economic sectors, these projects will have a lasting impact on our community, and I want to thank everyone involved who has helped make them happen.” 

The following projects have been awarded funding: 

  • $4.5 million to Northern York County Police Commission 
  • $4 million to York Country Day School 
  • $2 million to WellSpan York Hospital 
  • $2 million to the York County Economic Alliance 
  • $500,000 to LogosWorks 

The $4.5 million awarded to Northern York County Regional Police will provide for a new facility to increase staffing capacity, create a space for specialized police operations, and provide the facilities necessary to maintain the health and wellness of the department’s officers. 


The $4 million award for York Country Day School has been designated to build additional classrooms and multiple flex spaces to be used for specialized teachings, such as speech pathology and core subject acceleration and remediation. The classrooms will include pertinent technology for both in-school and remote instruction in addition to desks, chairs, and other project-based learning areas. 


The $2 million award to WellSpan York Hospital will be used to construct an additional 150 parking spaces and support WellSpan’s nine-story surgical and critical care tower expansion project. Hill-Evans stated that this project will improve access to advanced specialty care for complex conditions. 


The $2 million award to the York County Economic Alliance will fund the redevelopment of the former federal post office located in downtown York. Included in the redevelopment are facade improvements, stabilization and restoration of the interior structures, and preparation of the building for occupancy by a large anchor tenant. The construction process will look to restore historic features and maintain the historic integrity of the property wherever possible. 


The $500,000 award to LogosWorks will provide a staging facility designed to serve as a backbone structure connecting the under-resourced community to economic opportunities through direct programming and partnerships with nonprofits and businesses. The facility features classrooms, meeting rooms, a training center, a kitchen facility and a fitness/wellness center.

Manufacturer to move U.S. operations to York County, open new headquarters 

Thermal solutions company Mobile Climate Control (MCC) is consolidating its U.S. operations to a new headquarters in West Manchester Township, York County. 

Gov. Tom Wolf announced on Friday that the manufacturer is set to create 117 new, full-time jobs over the next three years as it moves all of its operations to a new 220,000-square-foot facility at 400 South Salem Church Road. 

The new location will merge MCC’s existing U.S. operations consisting of: a production facility in Goshen, Indiana; an engineering and prototyping facility in Syracuse, New York; and an aftermarket warehouse, customer service, engineering and testing facility in York. 

The Wolf Administration competed with other states for the project, offering MCC a funding proposal for a $250,000 Pennsylvania First grant and a $150,000 workforce development grant through the Department of Community and Economic Development. 

“The Governor’s Action Team is pleased to invest in projects like this one that support growing companies and help boost Pennsylvania’s workforce,” said Brent Vernon, director of the Governor’s Action Team. 

The company plans to retain 48 existing jobs, create at least 117 new jobs and invest $3.18 million into the project over the next three years.

The facility is expected to be operational by April.  York-based Kinsley Construction is the developer of the project.

The effort to bring the company’s entire operations to the region was pushed to the finish line with help from the York County Economic Alliance, which assisted MCC with the site search, and the Manufacturers’ Association, which will support the company’s talent and training strategy with the association’s Center of Excellence for Apprenticeship and Training. 

“The opportunity to bring our entire U.S. operation under one roof brings us key business synergies and Pennsylvania’s reputation as a hard-working manufacturing culture will ensure that our bus HVAC-R business remains competitive for years to come,” said Stephen Preisler, vice president of U.S. operations for MCC. “We thank the Governor’s Action Team for the funding award, as it was pivotal in the decision to bring our business fully to Pennsylvania. The funding will be used, with the help of the York County Economic Alliance and the Manufacturers’ Association, to develop our new employee base. We are very excited to bring well over 100 new jobs into our local community.”  

York County joins effort to help small business owners of color recover from the pandemic

York County organizations are pulling together to help small business owners of color recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City of York, York County Economic Alliance, Downtown Inc., York County Government/York County Planning Commission, Four Squares Development, Powder Mill Foundation, Community Progress Council, Main Street Hanover, Pennsylvania Community Development and Finance Corporation, and the Pennsylvania Downtown Center, have joined with the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s second annual Reinventing Our Communities program to offer statewide support.

This 10-month program is for the collective of York County-based organizations to:

  • Develop policy solutions to financing and access to credit for small business owners of color.
  • Promote small business ownership as a means of building wealth for business owners and their communities.
  • Support small businesses to scale to become employers.
  • Develop a multiyear racial equity plan for small business recovery and growth.

“Small businesses play many roles in the U.S. economy as drivers of job growth and innovation, creators of employment opportunities, and engines for building regional economies,” said Theresa Singleton, senior vice president of the Community Development and Regional Outreach Department at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. “However, the pandemic exposed the vulnerabilities of small businesses, especially small businesses owned by people of color, and created urgency around the need for equitable support. We are excited to work with this group of cohort members from York County on approaches that prioritize racial equity in their small business support.”

York County will participate in racial equity training led by Race Forward, a nonprofit racial justice organization, and in smaller groups with practitioners with small business expertise. The goal is for the cohorts to identify the structural barriers they face as small business owners of color and create a plan to address them.

“We are honored to be part of this national cohort of communities,” said Dr. Silas Chamberlin, vice president of the York County Community and Economic Development Corp.  “Over the last year, with the support of our community partners, York County finalized its 10-year economic development plan, the York County Economic Action Plan, with recommendations for economic mobility and entrepreneurial support with diversity, equity and inclusion as a driving pillar. This is a unique opportunity for York County to connect with statewide and national experts as well as other communities and further drive policies and change to support our entrepreneurial ecosystem through their business life cycle.”



York rail trail gets a video, and businesses get grants

Looking for something active for the family to do this weekend? Check out the York County Heritage Rail Trail, which now has its own official video.

The video, the creation of Brian Lazzaro, who has a vast knowledge of the trail, was unveiled May 11 by the York County Economic Alliance (YCEA), which also announced 12 grants to businesses along the trail aimed at making them more rider friendly.

Lazzaro and his wife, Rachelle, left Los Angeles to settle in Railroad, Pennsylvania, where they renovated a 19th century home named The Creek House.

The grants to businesses are for up to $5,000 each and were awarded through a program that supports five communities adjacent to the York County Heritage Rail Trail: City of York, Seven Valleys, Glen Rock, Railroad and New Freedom.

The York County Trail Towns Bloom grant program, launched in June 2020, received 19 applications. The 12 finalists, of which all were partially funded, represented all five Trail Towns.

The winning recipients:

    • Capt. Bob’s Crabs in Railroad, for portable toilets, a bike rack, and landscaping
    • Four Springs Winery in Seven Valleys for signage and seating
    •  Glen Rock Train Stop Pop-Up for marketing expenses to promote their new hours and entertainment expenses for their summer and fall festivals
    •  Grace Manor Bed & Breakfast in downtown York for accommodations and transportation for Black travel bloggers
    •  Keystone Kidspace in downtown York for bike pump station and signage
    •  Simply Local of Glen Rock for bike rack, benches, signage, expanded inventory of PA-produced goods
    •  Jackson House Bed & Breakfast in Railroad for trailside mobile drink cart and funding toward landscaping and replacement of awnings
    •  Summit Grove Camp & Conference Center in New Freedom for renovation of four motel rooms
    •  New Freedom Roasting Company and Deli for signage and bike rack
    •  Fresh Pressed Juice Bar in Downtown York for bike rack and sidewalk seating
    •  Gillice Italian Ice & Hand-Dipped Ice Cream in New Freedom for outdoor signage
    •  Kindred Wellness Café in Glen Rock for signage and shaded outdoor seating

The Bloom Grant Program was created in 2018 by a class of summer interns. Grant rounds have been hosted for women-owned businesses, business in downtown York, graduates of the YCEA’s small business development program, start-up businesses and YCEA members.

In all, more than $240,000 in grants have been awarded to 79 small businesses and nonprofits, of which over 53% were owned by persons of color and over 62% were women-owned or led.

The York County Economic Alliance also has a new initiative aimed at promoting customer service along the trail to serve trail users. The first recipient is Gillice Italian Ice & Hand-Dipped Ice Cream in New Freedom. Businesses interested in reviewing program guidelines and benefits and applying can find details at YorkCountyTrailTowns.com.

York College Knowledge Park planned at former Schmidt & Ault Paper Company site

York College’s Knowledge Park project is moving one step closer to completion.

On Tuesday, July 28, the college announced a partnership with the York County Land Bank Authority. The Land Bank Authority is staffed by members of the York County Economic Alliance (YCEA).

“The York County Land Bank Authority is a proud partner in this demolition and is excited to help get the College’s Knowledge Park plans kicked off,” said Tom Englerth, chair of the Land Bank Authority. “The funds for this project came from the demolition funds established by the County Commissioners in May of 2018 when the Land Bank was established.”

The Knowledge Park project has been in the works since 2008 when York College purchase the former Schmidt & Ault Paper Company at 427 Kings Mill Road. The mill had been vacant since 2000.

York College’s Knowledge Park project consists of converting three of the four buildings:

  • The King House will be used as an administrative support center
  • The West End warehouse will be used as the main entrance into the complex and focal point.
  • The King’s Mill warehouse will serve as the interior crossroads of the complex with connecting elevators, skylights and multi-use space

The Land Bank Authority will help with demolition, according to the press release. In August 2019, York College was awarded a $6 million RACP grant for the Knowledge Park redevelopment.

“The development of the Knowledge Park … will add an element of diversity and opportunity to the York Community’s economic landscape,” York College president Pamela Gunter-Smith said in a statement. “The Knowledge Park facilities to be an attractive environment to operate while enriching the learning experiences for our students.”

The redevelopment of the former paper mill is one of two land projects the college has begun undertaking. Since Jan. 2018, the college has spent over $8 million acquiring land along North George Street near the York WellSpan Hospital for its Land Use and Campus Enhancement Plan.


Talking the local economy with Silas Chamberlin, Vice president for the York County Economic Alliance

About Silas Chamberlin

Silas Chamberlin, 37, became vice president of economic and community development of the York County Economic Alliance in September 2018, when Downtown Inc. – which he has served since 2016 – joined forces with YCEA. Prior to that, he was executive director of the Schuylkill River National Heritage Area and also worked for the state department of conservation and natural resources.  He is also the author of “On the Trail: A History of American Hiking.”

Chamberlin earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Temple University, as well as a master’s in history and doctorate in environmental history, both from Lehigh University. He also holds a commercial real estate certificate from Cornell University.

He lives in Manchester Township, with his wife, Amanda, and their 7-year-old daughter, Lillian; 3-year-old son, Reid and 12-year-old dog, Ben.

Q: What has been the best tool so far for helping you navigate working remotely?

A: I had only used Zoom videoconference a few times before I began working remotely. Now, I have hosted or participated in dozens of Zoom calls and webinars and I absolutely love the technology. Working in a walkable place like York, I am used to seeing many of my colleagues and partners face-to-face on a regular basis, so Zoom is providing a coping mechanism for the lack of social interaction. We hosted an organization-wide Zoom meeting for our staff, and seeing nearly 30 faces of friends who are all passionate and committed to the same things you are was a huge morale boost. We’ve also found during this period of incredible demand for information on funding programs and other resources, the ability to reach 100 or more people at one time via a video webinar is incredibly powerful.

Q: What did YCEA have on the horizon in terms of economic development that you’re looking forward to getting back to once the crisis is past?

A: This crisis seemed to hit at a moment when some particularly important and impactful projects were just gaining momentum. YCEA is working with the York County Planning Commission, city of York and dozens — if not hundreds — of municipal and business partners to develop the York County Economic Action Plan, a 10-year strategic plan that will cast an ambitious vision for York County’s economic future and create shared goals and metrics for our success. We’ll be forging ahead with virtual meetings, online surveys and other new tactics for us until we can start hosting physical meetings again.

On one hand, it’s disappointing to have to compromise such an important process, but, on the other hand, what better time could there be to assess our community’s true strengths and weaknesses and plan for a better future?

Q: How do you and YCEA stand ready to help local businesses recover?

A: YCEA and our partners, such as SCORE, Main Street Hanover, the Hanover Chamber, SBDC and the SBA were going to announce a free Small Business 101 series for York County. With the support of our partners, we quickly shifted focus and resources to help guide business owners through this unforeseen time. In the last week, YCEA has received more than 250 inquiries — now probably approaching 300 — from businesses seeking specific resources. We’ve also connected with approximately 200 business owners through webinars.

There are three important ways businesses can take full advantage of YCEA’s resources, especially those related to information and funding: sign up for YCEA’s’ e-newsletters, visit www.PreparedYork.com and complete our COVID-19 Economic Impact Survey. I want to encourage businesses and individuals to please never be afraid to reach out for help, whether to your bank to ask about deferring your loan payments, your utility companies to learn about their COVID policies or one of the many community partners such as SCORE, SBDC, SBA and YCEA, which are available to help. 

Q: Which local businesses do you miss going to right now?

A: This is currently the longest I have gone without my two daily iced decaf coffees in many years, so I am definitely missing York County’s many independent coffee shops, including the Green Bean in downtown York. Yes, you can make it at home, but it’s never, ever as good, and you miss out on seeing all of your favorite people, which is half the fun of coffee shops. I am also desperately craving the brussel sprout caesar salad from Revival Social Club in downtown York, daydreaming about tacos y tortas in Hanover and crossing my fingers that COVID doesn’t delay the seasonal opening of Forry’s Drive-In near Wellsville. However, those who know me best, understand I’ve had a lifelong love for Hoss’s.  

I am incredibly grateful for York County’s parks, trails, and open space right now. They are an incredibly important respite during trying times like this and the skyrocketing use of our natural spaces is testament to the fact that these special places are indeed essential. I only hope we can enjoy them safely in groups again very soon!

York County Economic Alliance’s COVID-19 resources

The York County Economic Alliance is make several resources available to businesses.

As information changes daily, it is sending a daily e-newsletter with up-to-date information, and created a clearinghouse for information on a website.

Here’s how you can connect with both:

  • E-newsletter: to sign up visit www.yceapa.org and scrolling down to the newsletter subscription bar, or send an email to [email protected].  “We will be using our e-newsletters to share the latest developments on financial resources,” said Silas Chamberlin, vice president of economic and community development for the Alliance. “For example, when DCED announced the new COVID-19 Working Capital Access loan program earlier this week, we used our e-news to share the guidelines and application process almost immediately.
  • www.PreparedYork.com is a clearinghouse for information on the COVID crisis that includes information for both employers and employees, including archived video webinar sessions. The site includes a tab for small businesses that includes information on SBA Economic Recovery loans and COVID Working Capital Access loans, which are administered by PIDA but must be applied for through YCEA.


“We are also prepared to offer Spanish translations services and assistance,” Chamberlin said.

YCEA is also gathering data for an economic impact study of the effects of the pandemic on business. The COVID19 Economic Impact Survey will gather data on what is happening with businesses and what resources they need. 

“This information will be used to lobby for increased funding and, even more importantly, funding that actually meets the needs of our businesses at the state and federal levels.

We will be using our e-newsletters to share the latest developments on financial resources. For example, when DCED announced the new COVID-19 Working Capital Access loan program earlier this week, we used our e-news to share the guidelines and application process almost immediately.

You can sign up for our e-news by going to www.yceapa.org and scrolling down to the newsletter subscription bar, or by emailing [email protected]

Visit www.PreparedYork.com. This is a clearinghouse for information on the COVID crisis that includes information for both employers and employees, including archived video webinar sessions.

On the site, there is a tab for small businesses, which includes information on SBA Economic Recovery loans and COVID Working Capital Access loans, which are administered by PIDA but must be applied for through YCEA.

I know everyone is looking for tangible, cash resources—but these two communication streams—our newsletters and www.PreparedYork.com –are the two ways we will communicate those opportunities.

The survey is available at www.PreparedYork.com. We encourage everyone to take a few minutes to complete it and share with others.