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ASSETS Lancaster surveys south city businesses

LNP highlights a survey conducted by ASSETS researching businesses on the south side of Lancaster City. To view the original post, with images and the map we created based on our findings, click here

Assets Lancaster has released a survey of businesses on the south side of Lancaster, a report it says is the first of its kind.

“We didn’t know what’s there,” Assets program director Jonathan Coleman said. “What are their needs?” No one knows.”

Assets is an economic development nonprofit aimed primarily at small “mom-and-pop” entrepreneurs.

Its report is called the South Lancaster City Research Project. For it, the nonprofit mapped 239 businesses and received survey responses from 70.

The work took three months to complete and cost about $5,000. The city of Lancaster and the Lancaster City Alliance underwrote it, Coleman said.

Among the findings:

  • Groceries are the most common type of business in the area.
  • Among business owners surveyed, 71 percent are male, 29 percent are female.
  • 46 percent of business owners are Hispanic.
  • 3 percent of business owners are black.

The high representation of Hispanics among business owners is notable, given the nation’s ongoing debate over immigration, Coleman said.

WIth more than 100 Hispanic businesses on the south side, “that’s a heck of a lot of job creators,” he said.

Conversely, blacks would appear to be underrepresented, given that they make up 18 percent of Lancaster’s population.

Assets has just started to present its findings to local African American leaders and “they recognize that that’s a problem,” Coleman said.

Assets hopes to engage with them to encourage more black business formation, he said.

Poverty on the south side is nearly double what it is on the north side: 40 percent versus 22 percent, Assets said.

Assets realized there was a need for the survey after officials there completed paperwork for the city’s CRIZ program, Coleman said.

The CRIZ requires the compilation of detailed information on businesses in a designated zone, to establish a tax baseline before issuing bonds for more economic development.

But the CRIZ is based in the city’s center and northwest, not the south.

Assets realized that similar information would help organizations in designing economic development programs for the south side, Coleman said.

But up to now, it hadn’t been collected.

“No one — not the city Economic Development department, not the Mayor’s office, not the Chamber of Commerce — knew exactly which businesses were operating in the south of the city, who owns the businesses, or what type of support they might need,” Assets said in a statement.

Coleman called the report a “working report,” and said Assets is looking for feedback on it.

The Lancaster City Alliance is sponsoring a citywide economic development plan, being put together by a Baltimore consulting firm.

Assets has been involved in that process, and has provided the consultants a copy of the south side report, Coleman said.

Assets Lancaster has created a map based on its research. Click the link or the image below to view it.

Once you’re there, you can click on the “Details” button to see business categories. Click on each business to see its information.