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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 kmahoney@yceapa.org.  “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 kmahoney@yceapa.org

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.

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