OP-ED: Downtown York: Where small businesses grow and thrive

Elaine Bonneau
Downtown Inc
Kim Soderberg, of York City, left, receives her purchased items from owner Lindsey McBride at House of York in York City, Saturday, June 12, 2021. Dawn J. Sagert photo

In the most normal of times, starting and growing a small business is a challenging endeavor that requires hard work, creativity, patience and above all, resilience.

Small business owners wear many hats in order to survive. Whether it’s marketing, bookkeeping, site design, payroll, accounting, lending a hand in the kitchen or personally delivering product, the responsibilities of the local entrepreneur can be overwhelming.

But in the midst of a global pandemic, no matter how hard-working, creative, patient or resilient the local small business owner may be, the odds of achieving success are slim.

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And yet, despite the challenges of the past year, the business community of Downtown York has managed to grow and thrive.

As the organization committed to growing and enhancing investment in Downtown York, Downtown Inc has seen an influx of new businesses, expanding businesses and continued success for many of our downtown merchants. Since March of 2020, a total of 32 businesses opened their doors in Downtown York with an additional 13 businesses expanding into larger or secondary locations. Of those new 32 businesses, 13 are owned by people of color, and 19 are women-owned.

So, what’s the secret? How did 32 Downtown York business owners start a new business with 13 more expanding or opening a second location while main street communities around the country experienced unprecedented levels of closing businesses? As the old saying goes, “it takes a village.”

In the age of the global distributor, the same-day shipper and the international box chain store, the local small business can only survive when local consumers recognize and celebrate the value of the local dollar. The supporters of Downtown York know that when they shop and dine locally, they not only get a quality product, they support individuals who care for the same shared community.

It’s clear, Downtown York is a great place to start a business. No matter the odds, we are an entrepreneurial-minded community and we support our small businesses.

If you count yourself among the supporters of Downtown York, on behalf of our many courageous business owners, I thank you. If it has been a while since you have visited Downtown York, or you have never been, I invite you.

As the region’s hub of new ideas, cultural revitalization, culinary curiosity and artistic exploration, Downtown York awaits your discovery. With over 60 creatively curated eateries with over 25 offering safe outdoor dining, five innovative craft breweries, and numerous bold and unique shops, discover why Historically Edgy Downtown York is where you want to be on your next night out. Visit to learn more.

— Elaine Bonneau is director of Downtown Inc.