City of Lancaster Economic Development Strategic Plan
Project Overview & Purpose
In 2014, the Lancaster City Alliance sought out to develop a long-term economic development strategy for the City of Lancaster to ensure an appropriate environment for continued economic growth and quality of life enhancements. The City of Lancaster had entered into this planning process from a position of advantage, largely the result of over 15 years of coordinating and implementing the strategies identified in the Lancaster Economic Development Action Agenda (LDR Plan), produced in 1998. Today, following a track record of successful endeavors, Lancaster is characterized as a good place in which to invest, a community with access to numerous amenities, and is recognized for its thriving arts community and strong entrepreneurial spirit. This Plan is a fresh look at Lancaster and a tool for attracting continued investment. Navigating from a position of advantage, Lancaster is today Building on Strength. This Plan strives to create an environment that fosters growth and development, elevates the economic wellbeing of Lancastrians, and sets a foundation for healthy urban economic development for the coming years.
Building On Strength Progress Report, Fall 2020
Before March 2020, the City’s Building On Strength 15-year economic development plan was making extraordinary progress. As the economy shut down, the Lancaster City Alliance team went to work reviewing the plan and identified ways in which Building On Strength will now maintain the City’s strength. Plan implementation partners and volunteers with our Economic Development and Planning Executive Leadership Team helped to fine-tune the new direction. The plan as a whole remains in effect, but the focus has shifted to economic recovery. Listed below are the five recovery priorities, including recent work associated with each.
Supporting entrepreneurs as they navigate reopening with safety measures in place
Lancaster City Alliance hosted several virtual merchant meetings, partnering with organizations like SCORE Lancaster, City of Lancaster, EDC, Lancaster Chamber, and ASSETS to ensure businesses were able to take advantage of available funding, free PPE Kits, and understood the reopening guidelines. We also worked with the City to create outdoor dining and shopping opportunities to increase seating and floor space so they could safely boost customer traffic.
In partnership with ASSETS, Lancaster City Alliance mobilized the Entrepreneurship Coalition, bringing resource providers together to help entrepreneurs navigate the economic shutdown. This resulted in streamlining information and financial support for local businesses, including the Lancaster City Small Business Emergency Fund which offered both grants and loans to provide emergency relief to small businesses. This initiative was led by ASSETS, Community First Fund, and the City of Lancaster.
Supporting quality of life in the City, including healthy neighborhoods and transportation
In partnership with the Community Action Partnership of Lancaster County’s CAPital Construction and local contracting companies, Lancaster City Alliance is currently working with property owners to improve the front of their homes to enhance the quality of life. The focus area for this project is the corridors of S. Prince, S. Queen, Beaver, W. King, and Manor streets and the SoWe neighborhood in southwest Lancaster City. The goal is to complete 80 façade projects by the end of 2021, with 12 façade projects completed, 19 under construction, and 49 in the pipeline as of September 2020. To accomplish this, the project receives significant financial support from the BB&T (now Truist) Economic Growth Fund via the Lancaster County Community Foundation, City of Lancaster, Lancaster Housing Opportunity Partnership/SoWe, High Foundation, Steinman Foundation, Wells Fargo Regional Foundation, and the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development.
Marketing businesses and the City as a healthy place to shop, eat, and play
Building On Strength partner Discover Lancaster produced the “Safe & Open” campaign, creating a Lancaster City & town’s video, including downtown footage spliced into four other campaign videos. You can view all five videos on the top line of the Discover Lancaster YouTube channel. The videos aired in August and September, both on TV & digitally, and were promoted on their social media platforms. Discover Lancaster also sponsored the fall edition of Lancaster City Restaurant Week and the September RV Show at Clipper Magazine Stadium. Earlier in the summer, Lancaster City Alliance served as a small business champion in Fig Magazine to help spread the word that the welcome mat is back out. In partnership with the Lancaster Office of Promotion, the Indie Retail Week Committee organized and promoted a special week of shopping in the City shortly after businesses were able to reopen. Additionally, many volunteers from across the small business and restaurant community came together to organize and promote Restaurant Week and celebrate the City at the Velocity fundraiser.
Coordinating efforts with the Recovery Lancaster plan
Led by the Lancaster Chamber and the Economic Development Company of Lancaster County, several Building On Strength partners are involved in the Recovery Lancaster efforts. This includes serving and volunteering their time on the five recovery teams, which are Team 1 – Business Financing, Team 2 – Public Health Mitigation, Team 3 – New Business Normal, Team 4 – Economic Analysis, and Team 5 – Communications. This coordination resulted in 2,013 companies in the City ordering the free PPE kits, representing around 22,746 employees. Additionally, City businesses were awarded $2,578,878.41 in phase one grants and $2,963,278.53 during phase two.
Ensure that announced development projects remain on track
Before the pandemic, the community was on track to realize over $900M of privately led investment throughout the City. With recently announced projects we are set to surpass our Building On Strength goal of $1B, 10 years ahead of schedule. This is extraordinary, especially in these challenging times, and speaks to the resiliency of our community. With that said, keeping the projects moving during this economic uncertainty and ensuring they occur equitably, will be an intentional focus on the Building On Strength implementation team.
We are also pleased to report that work is being done to align the Building On Strength Plan with the Coalition to Combat Poverty’s One Good Job plan. Community leaders recognized that both plans are working toward a better future for everyone in Lancaster City. To ensure the greatest impact, the plans need to work together. The initiative will be led by the City of Lancaster, Lancaster City Alliance, Community Action Partnership of Lancaster County, Tabor, and LancCo MyHome. It will start with a comprehensive review of both plans to identify how they should be aligned and managed.
Like what you see? Text LCA to 243-725 to donate to the Building On Strength effort.
2030 Outcomes Dashboard: Significant Progress on Privately Led Investment and Housing, COVID-19’s Anticipated Impact on New Hotel Rooms, and Income Growth
More than five years after the implementation of the Building On Strength Economic Development Strategic Plan (2015-2030) began, investor confidence in the City of Lancaster remains very strong despite uncertainty in the economy due to the global pandemic which began affecting us in March. As of September 2020, a total of nearly $1.2 billion in private sector-led investment is planned, actively under construction, or has been completed since only July 2015. This puts projected total privately led investment 10 years ahead of schedule for the goal of $1 billion by 2030. In addition to this noteworthy advancement, there has also been substantial progress made toward the 2030 goal of “2,500 new residential units of all types and price points” with several significant mixed-use developments announced with nearly 700 new units proposed. These include: 45 apartments with ground-floor retail/restaurant space at 4-6 W. King Street by Zamagias Properties; Landis Place on King, 245 W. King Street (82 market-rate units for seniors with ground-floor restaurant space) proposed by Landis Communities; proposed redevelopment of the former YMCA site at N. Queen/Prince and Frederick Streets (up to 250 market-rate units with ground floor restaurant space and medical/office space) by Hankin Group/Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health; the proposed redevelopment of the former UPMC/St. Joseph Hospital campus on College and Wheatland Avenues by HDC MidAtlantic and Washington Place Equities (up to 120 affordable units, up to 205 market-rate units, ground floor retail/restaurant space, and office space); a proposed tower at Queen & Chestnut streets (168 market-rate units and ground-floor retail/restaurant space) by Berger Rental Communities; and an infill development at 215 N. Queen Street (51 market-rate micro units) proposed by Eberly Myers.
The development of retail/restaurant space and office/flex space exceeded 2030 goals more than two years ago and continues to grow thanks to large-scale redevelopment projects such as 101NQ.
Following the completion of the revamped Hotel Lancaster (now Holiday Inn Lancaster) and expansion of the Marriott Lancaster at Penn Square, the progress on the development of new hotel rooms toward 2030 goals has been strong but is anticipated to remain static for years to come as the hospitality industry remains weakened due to the impact of COVID-19. Similarly, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the City has consecutively seen progress from 2016 through 2018 toward the goal of a per capita income increase, and if that trend continues, we may see additional progress on this goal when the 2019 data becomes available in December 2020. However, it is projected that the 2020 data (available in December 2021) will show a decline in the City’s per capita income as the result of high unemployment beginning in March 2020 as a result of COVID-19 shutdowns and resulting furloughs and layoffs.
Privately Led Investment Growth Continues Outside of Downtown
As of September, approximately two-thirds of all privately led investment completed, actively under construction, or in the planning stages, totaling more than $761 million, is occurring outside of the Downtown Core. It is noteworthy that more than $96 million is occurring within commercial hubs that have not seen significant levels of new investment in many decades.