EDC Lancaster County: Supporting Today’s Businesses, Investing in Lancaster’s Future  - Lancaster Chamber of Commerce
EDC Lancaster County: Supporting Today’s Businesses, Investing in Lancaster’s Future 

A feature piece from our Spring 2024 issue of the Lancaster Thriving Publication.

By most measures, the morning of May 4, 1964, was a rather ordinary Spring day in Lancaster County – temperate air, cloudless sky, a touch of a breeze blowing up from the south. But if you’d happened to be traveling west of the city that day, you might have come upon something a little less than ordinary in your morning commute — a well-dressed grouping of local civic and business leaders stood conspicuously in a field near the border of East and West Hempfield Townships, shovels in hand, ready to dig. 

Among them was William Shand, chairman of the Industrial Development Company (IDC) of Lancaster County’s board of directors. As Shand plunged his spade into the rocky dirt below, the besuited businessman ceremoniously set into motion a plan more than six years in the making: to transform the 130-acre tract of dormant land into the Lancaster-Hempfield Industrial Park and usher in a new era of economic development in Lancaster County.  

In the months and years that followed, the IDC – an offshoot of the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce formally established in 1960 – oversaw the construction of a service road; contracted out the installation of water, gas, electric, and sewer lines; and, ultimately, attracted companies ranging from animal feed producers to a variety of manufacturers to take up residence in the new industrial park. By the time the last parcel was sold in 1975, the Lancaster-Hempfield Industrial Park had grown to over 300 acres. 

Much has changed within the organization over the past six decades. The IDC became the Economic Development Company of Lancaster County in the late 1970’s as it broadened its scope of focus to the whole of Lancaster County. And in September 2023, the organization rebranded again as EDC Lancaster County to better represent its commitment to advancing the health of the local economy in a more modern landscape. 

In that time, much has changed within Lancaster County, too. And with the many ebbs and flows that have occurred in the local economy, EDC has adapted to meet the needs that have arisen along the way. What remains unchanged, however, is the role that strategic economic development plays in fostering a strong, vibrant economy where local businesses can thrive. 

Sixty years later and five miles west of when and where William Shand and company had broken ground at the site of the Lancaster-Hempfield Industrial Park project, EDC Lancaster County is now actively engaged in another industrial park project. This time around, EDC has partnered with the Borough of Columbia in redeveloping the former site of the McGinness Airport into what will become the first modern business park within the Borough. With its 57 acres, the McGinness plot represents the last remaining large, developable tract of land within the Borough – big enough to accommodate a multi-tenant business park, but, also, big enough to require some significant financial support. 

After years of discussions and daydreams about how the defunct airfield might best be used, the Borough finally purchased the land in August 2021. Soon after, the vision for the 38-acre McGinness Innovation Park started coming together, with an unmanned drone research group slated to occupy the first of the eight parcels that will be available to local businesses. (An 18-acre park and conservation space at the southern end of the plot is also planned.) 

With EDC’s help, the Borough was awarded a $3.3 million grant and $5 million loan in July 2022 through the state’s Business In Our Sites (BIOS) program. These critical funds have made possible the many layers of groundwork needed to prepare the site to be “shovel-ready,” from environmental remediation and ground stabilization to building out the park’s streets and sidewalks infrastructure and landscaping. 

When completed, the McGinness Innovation Park project will not only help fuel the creation of new jobs – and tax revenue – within the Borough of Columbia but will also provide existing Lancaster County businesses with some much-needed space to grow. 

Lancaster County may look and operate differently from when the IDC was established over 60 years ago. But by continuing to engage directly with local companies and municipal and state leaders, EDC Lancaster County is proud to support the local business community as a means of advancing the local economy and improving the overall quality of life within the community. 

Is your business planning to grow? Contact EDC Lancaster County to learn how our team can help you achieve your expansion goals and continue to operate here in Lancaster County! edclancaster.com 

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