We can all agree 2020 was a year full of immense challenge. But as we reflect on 2020, there are moments to celebrate. The Lancaster business community is resilient, and that dedication to the County, to each other, and to moving forward, was on full display this year in a variety of ways.
This article is not meant to downplay any of the challenges facing business right now. It is an uphill battle with unknowns ahead. But, instead, this roundup of 16 Good Lancaster County Business Moments In 2020 is meant to inspire and to provide hope as we look at some of the encouraging things that helped our County as we head into the new year. This is not a complete list – as there are many other incredible moments where businesses stepped up to the plate!
1 – Thistle Finch, Other Distilleries, Create Cleaning Supplies
2020 was the year of needing an abundance of disinfectant spray and hand sanitizer, so Thistle Finch Distillery pivoted early in the pandemic when in-stock supplies were limited to ensure essential businesses in need would have enough. Other distilleries in the County joined Thistle Finch, creating a network that provided necessary materials to other businesses that were quickly running out of supplies. This was crucial for the supply chain.
2 – Virtual Performances: Theaters Pivot
Although the theater industry continues to be an area of immense need (don’t miss our upcoming article spotlighting how you can make an impact in January 2020), many theaters innovated to still showcase their incredible talent. The Fulton Theater, American Music Theater, and Sight and Sound Theatres streamed a variety of content online. Prima Theatre changed how it delivered content entirely – visiting neighborhoods for carols, retirement communities to safely sing outside of resident windows, and showing up on birthdays to bring cheer to those who could not gather to celebrate. Next year hopes to bring more in-person experiences, but for now, these theaters are prime examples of innovation.
3 – County-wide Collaborative Recovery Lancaster Project
The Recovery Lancaster project was led by the Lancaster Chamber, Economic Development Company of Lancaster County, and the County of Lancaster. This collaborative effort grew to include over 120 volunteers, a robust PPE distribution plan, funding opportunities, public health tips, and much more. Over 8,000 PPE kits were given to businesses in need for free, and a total of $40,963,759.69 was distributed to 1,298 unique recipients in Lancaster County – helping to sustain many businesses in this challenging time. This model of collaboration is now being replicated across the State and elsewhere due to the success. Check the full story, with details on who helped make this collaboration possible, in this special feature.
4 – ExtraGive Goes All Virtual, Still Breaks Record
This year, the ExtraGive event had to be all-virtual with limited gatherings based on safety. However, that did not stop the abundance and outpouring of donations and support. Thanks to the business partners and individual donors, the Lancaster County Community Foundation’s Extraordinary Give raised $13,439,850 that benefitted 522 organizations throughout Lancaster County. Now more than ever these organizations needed support – and the Lancaster community showed it in a big way.
5 – Penn Cinema Popcorn To-Go, Drive-In Resurgence
Although Penn Cinema could not show movies within the building during most of 2020, that didn’t stop the theater from innovating. The cinema opened up Penn Cinema Popcorn Penndemic to sell massive bags of popcorn for customers to pick up curbside for their own in-home movie nights. Penn Cinema also opened up a large outdoor screen for drive-in movies, something that was a huge success.
6 – Clipper Magazine Stadium Offers Unique Non-Baseball Events
When the baseball season was cancelled, Clipper Magazine Stadium had to diversify their events even more than usual. The team quickly got to work, and transformed the ballpark into an entertainment destination. From Outdoor Movie Nights that showed films ranging from Star Wars to Hocus Pocus, to safe Baseball Camps for kids, to a home run derby, to one of the few RV shows in Central, PA, to be able to continue, to a holiday lights experience, Clipper Magazine Stadium proved resilient and creative even without a baseball season this year. They were one of the leaders in providing safe entertainment in a time when options were extremely limited.
7 – Local Restaurants Get Creative
Restaurants without doubt need your continued support. We urge you to consider ordering takeout when you can and purchase gift cards to your favorite local spots. It is an industry that needs our crucial support. We are amazed by the creativity that restaurants have shown this year – from unique to-go cocktails, to pre-packed cook-at-home meals, to boxed kits of top favorites. Restaurants like Decades, Bull’s Head, T.J. Rockwell’s, Silantra, and more, have created ways for customers to get food in a safe way.
8 – Food Donations to Medical Workers
Oola Bowls added a “Donate a Bowl” option to their online ordering so customers can choose to pay it forward for essential healthcare workers. Sprout, in coordination with donations, helped to feed many workers at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Hospital on multiple occasions. The Park City Diner & Coffee Shop and the Knight & Day Diner teamed up to serve 400 Easter meals to healthcare workers and first responders in April. We celebrate our local restaurants and their commitment to the health care workers who have tirelessly worked to keep our safety at the forefront of what they do.
9 – Important Covid-19 Resource Hub
The Lancaster Chamber offered a COVID-19 Resource Hub that housed local, State, and national information regarding the pandemic, free webinars & virtual programs for businesses looking for more information, and created a place for updates on mitigation efforts & health all throughout 2020. The page continues to be live on the website (see it here), giving new, crucial information and updates for businesses as we continue to navigate this difficult business landscape into 2021.
10 – Business Supporting Lancaster Police
Sweets from Miesse Candies and 35,000 gloves from Ganse Apothecary are two examples of businesses giving to local Lancaster police departments in an effort to support them during the COVID-19 outbreak. The department tried to limit face-to-face interaction, but being out in the community provides challenges with social distancing and the personal protective equipment helped. The sweets also provided a good boost!
11 – Ten Thousand Villages Brings Powerful Stories To Even More Team Members
Although the home office is based in Akron, PA, Ten Thousand Villages’ stores, featuring handmade ethically sourced wares from around the globe, span all across the United States. Each year the company hosts an artisan partner from their fair trade network to speak at their National Workshops – an internal event for staff and volunteers. This year, it had to be virtual. But this necessary shift created the opportunity to reach more staff and volunteers than ever before. In addition, rather than being limited to hosting one artisan partner, the virtual space made it possible to host artisan partners from Peru, India, and Kenya, sharing their stories right from their communities.
12 – Collaborative Photography Project: Headshots for Unemployed
Lancaster photographers Richard Waine and Sam Interrante, along with Phoenixville photographers Jim McAndrew and Gary Walens, offered free headshots at Park City Mall as part of a nationwide initiative called 10,000 Headshots. The project coordinated photographers all across the United States to help give professional headshot opportunities to those seeking jobs. It was a specialized project that filled a unique void for those unemployed during this year.
13 – Tait, Clair Collaborate To Deliver PPE To School Systems
Clair Global and Tait drivers delivered over 200 pallets of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to all of the sixteen school districts in Lancaster County, along with IU13 in August.
Both companies stepped up, partnering with the Lancaster County Purchasing department, donating their services, to ensure school districts received desperately needed PPE in time for the beginning of the school year.
14 – ASSETS Creates Minority-Owned Business Directory
ASSETS updated their Business Directory to have the option to specifically highlight local Lancaster County businesses owned by people of color and women. The resource proved, and continues to prove, extremely valuable in searching for businesses to support, especially in this difficult year. Check it out here.
15 – Innovation in Retail
This year was a year many small retailers took to websites and social media to innovate how to sell their products. Knock Knock Boutique utilized Facebook Live events to sell accessories, while many stores like Ellicott & Co. and Kitchen Kettle Village utilized curbside pickup as a new option for customers. There was a boom in ecommerce options, as many small businesses realized how important a website is now more than ever.
16 – Lancaster Chamber’s Annual Dinner Accessible To All
On October 1, the Lancaster Chamber Annual Dinner was transformed into a special livestream experience from Clipper Magazine Stadium. For the first time ever the Annual Dinner event was accessible for free to all online. Viewers watched special celebrity shout-outs, a pep talk by Manheim Central grad and Chicago Bears head coach Mat Nagy, a unique musical collaboration, local business awards, and more. You can still watch the entire event here.
At a time when it was never more needed, business after business and person after person shared their stories with us on how they prioritized Thinking Local this holiday season…and beyond. And, the found opportunities they didn’t know existed, creative gifts that added meaning to the season and local business services that get the job done. As we enter 2021, here’s hoping we all find ways to lean into the Think Local mantra even more!
We can’t help but end this list by offering our thanks for the inspiration we took from you, our business members, every day during this challenging year. And, while you faced your own challenges head-on, you also managed to continue your support of the Chamber. In fact, in 2020, our Memberships grew and we maintained almost 100% of our sponsorships. We pledge to show our appreciation for your support during the challenging year by working hard to provide essential programming, advocacy, resources, and networking opportunities to ensure we can all find a way to prosper in the coming year.
We are proud of the Lancaster County business community, and we want to recommit our dedication to you as we navigate the future together.