York County approves allocation of over $40 million in ARPA funding

Matt Enright
York Dispatch
Henkels & McCoy employees Jeff Conrath, left, and Scott Stuck unspool 10,000 feet of fiber optic cable during an installation along the York County Heritage Rail Trail in Codorus Township Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. The York County Board of Commissioners allocated $5 million from its federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to pay for the the new broadband internet infrastructure. Bill Kalina photo

Help is on the way for a variety of York County businesses, social services and nonprofits hit by the pandemic.

On the recommendation of a York County Economic Alliance task force, York County allocated nearly half of its $87 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding toward priorities in the community.

The county commissioners on Wednesday unanimously allocated $41.57 million. With more than $25 million previously allocated toward improving broadband in York County and $1.5 million allocated toward funding CHIRP grants, that leaves a little over $19 million left for the county from ARPA funding.

More:Part of York County rescue funds to go toward broadband

More:York City gets $35.3M in COVID-19 recovery funds; residents get say in how it's spent

Among those priorities: assisting businesses and nonprofits affected by both the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing difficulties with the labor force, investing in York County's emergency response, spending on York's tourism industry, assisting public and nonprofit social services in delivering resources and support to county residents, and investing in programs that grow both child care capacity and the child care workforce.

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Silas Chamberlain, a YCEA official and leader of the task force, praised the work of the commissioners after they voted to approve the allocation.

"It's very rare that a county takes a deliberative approach to this," Chamberlain said. He highlighted how York County had brought together leaders from a variety of perspectives and allocated funding across a broad spectrum of priorities.

"It allows us to be able to turn to other counties, give them advice and best practices. It always feels good when York County can be a leader and a source of best practices for others," Chamberlain said.

Here's how funding will be allocated:

  • $16 million toward providing emergency relief to businesses and nonprofits impacted by COVID and the employment situation. That includes $9.5 million  toward a second round of the YoCo Strong Restart Grant program, $1 million toward senior centers countywide, veterans support services and $1.5 million of direct allocation to United Way partner organizations.
  • $21 million toward investing in York County's emergency response systems. That includes investment in the county's emergency management structure, as well as reimbursement to York County based on a U.S. Treasury reimbursement formula.
  • $3 million toward jump-starting York County's tourism economy. That includes a tourism grant program through Explore York, $1 million of investment into the York County History Center's upcoming Steam Plant project and supporting Phase One of the Hanover Trolley Trail.
  • $500,000 toward public and nonprofit social services organizations. That includes direct allocation to nonprofits and supporting collaboration between public and private partners.
  • $1 million toward programs that support the development of the county's early childhood education capacity and enhancing existing centers.

President Commissioner President Julie Wheeler praised the work of the task force, saying its recommendations would help vulnerable populations in the county such as older adults and children in child care. The recommendations also cover a large area in York County, including places like Dillsburg, Hanover and Hellam Township. 

“This economically-critical action will provide significant investment and the infusion of capital into York County’s rebounding economy,” Wheeler stated in a news release. “We believe it will provide funding to many sectors of our economy to stabilize businesses and organizations across the entire county as well as continue our recovery.”

— Matt Enright can be reached through email at menright@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @Matthew_Enright.