Planning System 2 Expanding Economic Opportunity

Economic Opportunity centers around the ability of current and future Lancaster City residents to earn incomes and build assets that allow them to live safe, healthy, fulfilling lives. This also means prioritizing those who have not historically enjoyed prosperity. Economic Opportunity includes strategies to grow the local economy and support business needs while also prioritizing the triple-bottom line: Economy, Equity and Environment. True prosperity does not come at the expense of people and the planet but because of their success.


Policy EEO – 1.1: Raising Household Income
Raise household incomes in the city, especially among disadvantaged groups and lower-income households.  Ensure that workforce and economic development programs are responsive to the needs of local families, including transportation, childcare, education, and training.  Prioritize job readiness programs and essential / life skills courses.

Action EEO – 1A: Economic Needs Surveys
Conduct surveys and other data collection efforts at regular intervals to hear directly from residents what their most pressing needs are related to employment.  Analyze and share data amongst Economic and Workforce Development partners to guide the delivery of services and meet the top needs of residents.

Policy EEO – 1.2: Childcare Resources
Provide high-quality, affordable before and after school care and summer programs as a way to support working parents.  Prioritize children of employed single heads of households to facilitate secure household incomes and a stronger workforce. 

Action EEO – 1.2A: Childcare Study
Work with the School District of Lancaster, Lancaster Recreation Commission, and nonprofit partners to evaluate the supply and demand of current childcare resources, and make recommendations to fill gaps where they may exist.

Policy EEO – 1.3: Promotion of Residents to Employers
Connect Lancaster residents to local employers, especially employers within the city limits.  Local residents should be positioned as the best candidates to fill jobs in the city.  Job matching programs should prioritize residents who may face barriers to employment, including non-native English speakers, refugees and immigrants, youth, persons with disabilities, and single parents.    

Action EEO – 1.3A: Job Board
Launch a City Job Board to post employment opportunities, with a focus on jobs in the city. Ensure residents are aware of the Job Board and other resources through regular communications and advertisements.

Policy EEO –1.4: Meeting Employer Workforce Needs
Reinforce employment and training programs led by organizations such as Workforce Development Board, Thaddeus Stevens, and Tec Centro, which respond to business trends and create the skills and abilities needed by local businesses.  Work with local employers to identify their needs. Collaborate with educational institutions to meet these needs and prepare residents for jobs in the local economy.  

Action EEO – 1.4A: Workforce Development Analysis
Evaluate the efficacy of existing workforce development programs for city residents by tracking data on services delivered and outcomes achieved and comparing against best practices. Invest in workforce development initiatives that benefit residents and employers, increase the tax base, and strengthen neighborhood fabric.

Action EEO – 1.4B: Employer Hiring Network
Establish an Employer Hiring Network comprised of aligned employers, including the City of Lancaster, to recruit city residents into family-sustaining employment.  Connect these employers with workforce development organizations so that education programs are responsive to needs and opportunities. 

Policy EEO – 1.5: Workforce Collective Impact
Improve coordination among workforce development, education, human services and business to reduce barriers, leverage resources, and increase collective impacts.  Identify emerging trends and technologies so that residents have the skills to succeed as the economy changes.

Policy EEO – 1.6: Education and Employment Linkage
Link local education and employment, as educational attainment can be a critical driver of long-term income, job, and population growth for a given area. The level of educational attainment in Lancaster City is lower than that in the county and suggests living wage employment opportunities for many city residents will come from industries such as manufacturing and construction. The city should vigorously support education and training programs among its partners to enable family-sustaining local jobs.

Policy EEO – 1.7: Public School Partnerships
Deepen the relationship between the City and the School District of Lancaster, including understanding graduate and job trends, connecting students with City jobs and other prospective employers, matching businesses with schools, and nurturing local talent.

Policy EEO – 1.8: Vulnerable Populations
Expand employment resources and support for vulnerable populations in Lancaster city, including persons exiting the criminal justice system and persons with mental health needs.  Support employment for formerly incarcerated persons to reduce recidivism among this population. (see also Policy BCC-2.4)

Policy EEO – 1.9: Nontraditional Income
Promote opportunities for residents to expand their earning potential through non-traditional, part-time, informal, and creative economy pursuits.  Examples include expansion of Accessory Dwelling Units (generating income through rent), home-based businesses, freelancing, technology entrepreneurship, and job-sharing. 


Policy EEO – 2.1: Geography of Economic Development
Prioritize economic growth and revitalization activities in the areas designated in the Comprehensive Plan Economic Development Policy Map.  Prepare Small Area Plans where necessary to direct investment, guide land development, and maximize community and economic benefit.

Action EEO – 2.1A: Building on Strength Recalibration
Update the city’s Economic Development Plan, titled Building on Strength.  Use the Comprehensive Plan’s general Economic Development Policy Map to organize strategies and initiatives.  Integrate and further detail (as needed) place-based policies for the mixed-use, commercial Corridors and Hubs.

Action EEO – 2.1B: Redevelopment Area Plan Update
Update the city’s Redevelopment Area Plan, which guides the work of the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Lancaster (RACL).  The Redevelopment Plan establishes broad topical goals and geographic areas for RACL activities, as well as identifying key sites or land parcels for acquisition that may catalyze revitalization and economic growth.

Policy EEO – 2.2: Economic Development Toolbox
Maintain effective economic development tools including Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance (LERTA), the City Revitalization Improvement Zone (CRIZ), and Tax Increment Financing (TIF) as ways to grow commercial and mixed-use business in the city and incentivize physical improvements where there may otherwise be barriers.  Adapt, improve, and add to the toolbox as feasible, coordinating with the County and/or State as needed to achieve the desired results.

Policy EEO – 2.3: Small Business Grants and Loans
Encourage and support economic development partner organizations such as Lancaster City Alliance, ASSETS, Lancaster Economic Development Company, and Community First Fund to develop and expand grant and loan programs for small businesses seeking capital to start, improve, or expand.  Emphasize opportunities for disadvantaged businesses and businesses owned by women and persons of color.  

Action EEO – 2.3A: Housing Impact Fund
Create a revolving loan and/or grant fund(s) to help close financing gaps for land development projects that will produce new housing in the City, including affordable and workforce housing.  This fund is intended to address the high demand for housing and limited supply, which is an impediment to economic growth.

Policy EEO – 2.4: Infrastructure and Economic Development
Where feasible, utilize public infrastructure investments and site clean-up or preparation to overcome economic and/or environmental barriers and enable redevelopment.  Partner with land developers wishing to activate priority areas or sites (designated in the Comprehensive Plan or related planning documents) to identify and apply appropriate funding sources and tools. 

Policy EEO – 2.5: Broadband Access
Establish and maintain broadband internet access for all households and businesses within the City of Lancaster.  Achieving this standard helps to provide equitable access to information, reduce transportation costs, and support economic development and job growth.

Policy EEO – 2.6: Light Industry and Innovation
Use land designated as “Light Industry and Innovation” on the Future Land Use Map to augment the number and diversity of jobs in the city and increase tax revenues.  These lands can advance existing job sectors in Lancaster while providing space for emerging job sectors.  

Action EEO – 2.6A: Commercial and Industrial Lands Study
Conduct a citywide commercial and industrial lands study, with a focus on areas north of the train tracks, to assess the viability of these areas for current and future users. Develop land use and economic development strategies for key sites to attract investment, create jobs and revenue, and provide amenities for Lancaster city residents. 

Policy EEO – 2.7: Education and Health Care Sectors
Recognize the role of education and health care as core industries and economic drivers.  Collectively, these sectors represent 40 percent of the city’s jobs, and their retention is critical to Lancaster’s economic health.  Maintain a favorable business climate that allows these industries to adapt, expand, and thrive.  


Policy EEO – 3.1: City Brand and Marketing
Refine and promote the City’s brand so it remains fresh, identifiable, and compelling both locally and in the mid-Atlantic region. Build on the fact that Lancaster is seen as a wholesome, unique, and beautiful place. Ensure that the City’s unique attributes are reflected in an expanded brand that includes recreation, tourism, cultural diversity, and independent entrepreneurs.  

Policy EEO – 3.2: Promoting Local Shopping
Encourage local purchasing of goods and services by residents, workers, businesses, and visitors in order to support Lancaster city businesses, generate revenue, and cycle dollars back into the economy.  Support initiatives such as “Downtown Dollars” that promote patronage of local businesses by residents and visitors.   

Policy EEO – 3.3: Leadership in the Impact Economy
Invest in the “impact economy” (see sidebar) and businesses, products, and services that differentiate Lancaster city as a special place and market. Grow BIPOC-owned businesses to build an economy that reflects the makeup of the community.  Incentivize organizations to shift purchasing toward local, BIPOC-owned, women-owned, and “B Corp” businesses.

Policy EEO – 3.4: Economic Partnerships at Neighborhood and Community Scale
Foster relationships with community development organizations including ASSETS, Community Action Partnership (CAP), Spanish American Civic Association (SACA), SoWe, YWCA, Tenfold, and members of the Lancaster Equity coalition to ensure that economic development is thoughtful, intentional, and beneficial at the neighborhood level, throughout the city.  

Policy EEO 3.5 – Local Business Information
Disseminate information to local businesses on topics such as training, lending, contracting/ procurement, facade improvement, business development, networking, and real estate resources. Assist displaced businesses in finding new office or retail locations that can contribute to commercial success and effectively serve consumers. 

Action EEO – 3.5A: Business Registry
Promote local businesses widely by establishing an improved City Business Registry.

Policy EEO – 3.6: Hospitality Sector
Recognize and support tourism and hospitality as a significant contributor to Lancaster’s economy.  Ensure that tourism initiatives are authentic and culturally inclusive.  Promote activities that celebrate Lancaster’s history, outdoor environment, and scenic resources, including the Conestoga River.  

Action EEO – 3.6A:  Tourism Master Plan
Complete a Tourism Master Plan and expand partnerships with Discover Lancaster to expand local, regional, and Mid-Atlantic tourism in Lancaster city.  Key aspects of the plan may include making physical design improvements to the City’s Welcome Center; upgrading guest services and resources; continuing to invest in placemaking, including public art and public spaces; and promoting the history of racial equity in Lancaster, including the emerging Thaddeus Stevens and Linda Hamilton Center for History and Democracy.  

Policy EEO – 3.7: Production Economy
Celebrate and grow Lancaster’s production economy of locally grown and produced food, beverages, art, crafts, clothing, and more. Support maker spaces and non-traditional retail spaces to innovate, create, and sell local products.  Local marketing campaigns and targeted events should bolster local makers and producers.

Policy EEO – 3.8: Local Attractions
Invest in cultural arts, sports, convention, and entertainment venues to create amenities for residents and draw regional consumers.  Encourage venues to work collaboratively in scheduling, marketing, and offerings.