Wednesday, February 28, 2024

York County to Combine Economic Development and Tourism Departments

The LOVE letters at Riverwalk were put in place in part by the York County Tourism office. (Courtesy of York County)

YORK COUNTY — Next year will be on of transition for two departments of the York County government as the Economic Development Authority (EDA) and Tourism Development combine into one department in the upcoming months.

There are a several reasons cited for the merger, according to County Administrator Neil Morgan. One major reason is that the two departments already collaborate on a regular basis.

“York County is a medium size place,” Morgan said during an interview with WYDaily. “We do not really have enough resources to do justice separately to both the Economic Development function and the Tourism function. I think this an opportunity for you to get more bang for your buck.”

Morgan also mentioned that tourism is a large part of of the County’s economy.

“Over the years a lot of things that the EDA has been involved in like site assembly and getting grants for renovation and expansions are tied to the economy in any case,” he said. “A major part of our economic base is tourism, so the argument for bringing them together in a place like York County is perhaps stronger than in a community where tourism is not so significant.”

Morgan said that the government decided to put the plan into action after the long-serving EDA Director James Noel announced that he is going to retire in May 2022.

“Lots of times when you have personnel changes it is both a problem and an opportunity,” Morgan said. “We figured that we need some continuity here and we had an opportunity for synergy.”

Moving forward, Kristi Olsen-Hayes, formerly the County’s tourism development manager, has been named the new deputy director for the combined departments. She has been working in tourism for York County since 2002 and, before that, had stints with Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Colonial Williamsburg.

The merger went into effect on Dec. 1 and it will incrementally be phased in over the next year.

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