York County Economic Alliance to bring Downtown Inc under its wing
The York County Economic Alliance announced it will be absorbing the downtown York economic development entity Downtown Inc to bolster efforts to promote economic development throughout York County, specifically in urban areas.
YCEA President Kevin Schreiber, Downtown Inc CEO Silas Chamberlin and board members from both organizations announced the partnership during a Thursday, Sept. 13, news conference at PeoplesBank Park's White Rose Hall.
'Strategic affiliation': The business leaders referred to the partnership as a "strategic affiliation" rather than a merger, as Downtown Inc will continue to "drive, enhance and encourage investment in Downtown York," as stated on its website.
The group will also be working with urban communities throughout the county, not just in its previous 26-square-block radius in Downtown York, Schreiber said, adding that Downtown Inc's urban expertise is what the YCEA had previously lacked.
"This partnership makes sense to leverage the expertise of Downtown Inc to complement and complete our team," he said. "We have one simple goal: To increase economic growth across York County and within downtown York and create sustained and shared prosperity for all residents."
Second try at a city partner: The announcement came three months after the York City Council tabled a partnership contract between the YCEA and the city after allegations of gentrification were voiced by the minority community.
The contract was drafted to formalize an ongoing relationship between the YCEA and the city to promote economic development through additional resources and employees provided by the alliance.
But minority residents said the alliance, largely consisting of white board members, couldn't efficiently represent the racially diverse population of the city.
But Schreiber said that contract and the partnership with Downtown Inc don't share much in common, adding the entities "will continue to use the tenants of Main Street to share the expertise to the surrounding communities, kind of like a Main Street-Elm Street model."
Five employees who previously worked for Downtown Inc will now be working for the YCEA, bringing the YCEA workforce to 27, Schreiber said.
The alliance also has reserved two board positions for individuals who previously worked for Downtown Inc.
Chamberlin, now working under the title of YCEA vice president of economic and community development, said his goal will remain the same but will be accompanied by significantly more resources, contrary to the organization's previous "shoestring budget."
"By bringing together these two economic development powerhouses to achieve our distinct missions, we will increase our capacity without diminishing our collective impact," Chamberlin said.