York County continues to recover from pandemic, 32 new businesses arrive downtown
York County's economy is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, with 32 new businesses arriving to the downtown York City area and 13 older businesses expanding during 2020-21.
And while 10 businesses also closed during that same time period, York County Economic Alliance President and CEO Kevin Schreiber said the new growth is providing a renewed sense of optimism.
"If you look at how far we've come in 18 months, it's pretty remarkable," he said. "We're still very much in an economic crisis and clawing our way out of it, but I think this is a reason to pause and see that there are good things ahead and that businesses are finding opportunity in crisis."
Some people used the mandated quarantine to brush up on entrepreneurship skills and take the leap to starting a business, he said.
That was the case for Lindsey McBride, the owner of House of York.
Though McBride started her new business journey in January 2020, before the pandemic, much of the preparation and launch happened in the summer.
"There was so much going on that I didn't have to to worry about it succeeding from the pandemic; I didn't even consider that to be a roadblock," she said. "I had a little bit lowered expectations for the first year but I actually don't think the pandemic hurt me."
House of York, located at 44 W. Philadelphia St., is a home and lifestyle boutique — a business venture that's always been a dream of McBride's.
Before her new role as an entrepreneur, she held several jobs in marketing and communications. With these skills, McBride said she had valuable tools and knowledge at her disposal when launching her business. That didn't mean, however, additional help wasn't sought after.
McBride utilized the services of Downtown Inc, which helped provide marketing services. She also applied for and was awarded several grants.
Schreiber recommended that local business owners apply for any grants they are eligible for — including the York County Economic Alliance's Bloom Grant Program.
Applications for the 2021 Bloom Grant Program are now open, with $25,000 in funding available to York County businesses. Last year, 30 businesses were awarded funding.
"We try to be holistic and try to help the life cycle of business," Schreiber said. "We help start them up, help them grow and help them with financing."
Elaine Bonneau, the director of Downtown Inc, said her organization has worked to be intentional, deliberate and consistent in the outreach to small businesses to ensure each owner has the resources and tools to succeed.
Coming off the 2020-21 business cycle, Bonneau said those who took risks during the pandemic were able to succeed with the help of the community and funding partners.
"We're not just here for the sunny days; we want to be here for the storm too," Bonneau said. "In some ways, I was a little bit surprised to see the number of new businesses. But the energy, optimism and community I experience every day when I'm downtown, I could feel that we were looking at positive outcomes here."
— Reach Tina Locurto at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.