An Ephrata-based economic development organization under new management hopes two special state designations for the borough’s downtown and surrounding neighborhoods will help mark a new chapter for the nonprofit and lead new investment in the borough’s historic Main Street.
The designations, called Keystone Main Street and Keystone Elm Street, are part of a five-year Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development program that provides municipalities or local organizations with grants, planning assistance and additional resources to attract and retain new businesses and new jobs. in their town centers.
Mainspring of Ephrata began pursuing designations in earnest this year and hopes to receive them by the end of the summer, according to Joy Ashley, the nonprofit’s executive director.
“The responsibilities and reporting to receive and maintain the designation is significant,” Ashley said. “But it will keep us focused and results-oriented.”
The move comes as developer group Firm Foundations purchased the Brossman Building at 124 E. Main St. in January for $3.5 million. Firm Foundations co-owners Kris Koffman and Dan Gotwalt have partnered with D. Ott Construction owner Dan Ott to purchase the Brossman property, Koffman told LNP | Lancasters online.
The group plans to keep the office space in the building and recruit a new tenant for the restaurant space formerly occupied by Lily’s on Main.
It could take DCED officials about six months to review and approve at least one of the designations, Ashley said.
If accepted, Ephrata would become the only municipality in Lancaster County to participate in the program, according to the DCED website. Lebanon is currently designated as a Keystone Main Street.
The move marks a new chapter for Mainspring of Ephrata, a local economic development organization focused on improving commerce and activity in the borough’s downtown area, as well as neighborhood initiatives.
Ashley became executive director in December. She said she had already begun working with the nonprofit’s board of directors to come up with new strategies for her work and to raise awareness about Mainspring in Ephrata.
“We needed a reboot,” Ashley said. “We lost sight of our purpose, our identity. Everyone wanted a healthy and vibrant city, but we needed to regroup, reassess and refocus the organization to be in a better place to achieve that.
This included an organizational restructuring to focus on three main functions: business development, redevelopment of borough buildings, and community programming.
Mainspring is currently in the process of recruiting volunteers to work on committees and task forces to help guide these efforts, Ashley said.
The association also hopes to improve its communication with residents and perceptions of Ephrata.
“I think the image of our city overall needs to be improved, and so that’s a big part of what we want to accomplish this year, and that’s going to take a lot of community communication,” Ashley said.
Mainspring of Ephrata was formed in 2018 when three previous nonprofits, Downtown Ephrata Inc., Ephrata Alliance, and Ephrata Economic Development Corp., came together.