First Trail Towns Bloom Grant Recipients Announced

by | May 12, 2021 | News

Yesterday, on the backdrop of Ruins Hall in Glen Rock, the York County Economic Alliance (YCEA) announced the recipients of the York County Trail Towns Bloom grant program.

York County Economic Alliance launched the York County Trail Towns program in June 2020 to support five communities adjacent to the York County Heritage Rail Trail: City of York, Seven Valleys, Glen Rock, Railroad, and New Freedom.

The program received 19 applications, and narrowed down to 12 finalists, of which all were partially funded, representing all five Trail Towns. Grants up to $5,000 were considered for projects intended to increase the portion of the business related to York County Heritage Rail Trail users and/or to make the business more trail user-friendly such as marketing and promotions aimed at trail users, expanding inventory, physical improvements (such as better lighting, storefront enhancements, façade repairs), addition of bike-friendly amenities (such as bike racks, water, restroom improvements), or other creative ideas. Funding for this allocation of grants came from the York County Community Foundation.

The recipients of the Trail Towns Bloom Grant are:

  • Capt. Bob’s Crabs in Railroad, for portable toilets, a bike rack, and landscaping
  • Four Springs Winery in Seven Valleys for signage and seating
  • Glen Rock Train Stop Pop-Up for marketing expenses to promote their new hours and entertainment expenses for their summer and fall festivals
  • Grace Manor Bed & Breakfast in Downtown York for accommodations and transportation for Black travel bloggers
  • Keystone Kidspace in Downtown York for bike pump station and signage
  • Simply Local of Glen Rock for bike rack, benches, signage, expanded inventory of PA-produced goods
  • Jackson House Bed & Breakfast in Railroad for trailside mobile drink cart and funding toward landscaping and replacement of awnings
  • Summit Grove Camp & Conference Center in New Freedom for renovation of four motel rooms
  • New Freedom Roasting Company and Deli for signage and bike rack
  • Fresh Pressed Juice Bar in Downtown York for bike rack and sidewalk seating
  • Gillice Italian Ice & Hand-Dipped Ice Cream in New Freedom for outdoor signage
  • Kindred Wellness Café in Glen Rock for signage and shaded outdoor seating

As you may already recall, the Bloom Grant Program was created in 2018 by a class of summer interns, to offer unique funding opportunities through this small business grant program. Grant rounds have been hosted for women-owned businesses, Downtown York specific businesses, graduates of the YCEA’s small business development program, Start-up businesses, and YCEA member businesses throughout York County. To date, Bloom grants have awarded over $240,000 to 79 small businesses/Non Profits, of which over 53% were owned by persons of color, and over 62% were women owned or led. 

In addition to the grant program, the YCEA also announced yesterday a new initiative – the Trail Towns Trail-Friendly Business Program.  This program encourages businesses to leverage “trail traffic” through hospitality and service recommendations as a “best practice” to market to and attract trail users. The objective is to establish a level of customer service along the trail to serve trail users. On the website, businesses can review the program guidelines and benefits, as well as apply to be designed a Trail-Friendly business. The first recipient of this program is Gillice Italian Ice & Hand-Dipped Ice Cream in New Freedom.

Ending the press event was the debut of the official Trail Towns promotional video, created by Brian Lazzaro, who has a vast knowledge of the Heritage Rail Trail, and the Trail Towns program. Brian and his wife Rachelle left Los Angeles to settle in Railroad, PA, where they renovated a 19th century home, now available on Air B&B, named The Creek House.  Click here to watch the video. 

For more information on the program, visit

About the YCEA
YCEA drives York County’s economic growth by leveraging the collaboration, resources and expertise needed to create sustainable prosperity.


Education Benefits

Trails of all kinds offer layers of benefits, an often overlooked one is the opportunity to educate its users. Providing signage, programs or events that present information about natural resources, the history of the area, or cultural resources along the trail or a specific site enriches the personal experience and can encourage further exploration or increase awareness and stewardship.

Social Capital Benefits

Expanding on the theme of the community identity and civic pride is social capital. Social capital is the effective functioning of social groups in a place through interpersonal relationships, a shared sense of identity, and a shared understanding that leads to a positive product, benefits, or outcome. It is similar to financial capital but within a group of people or community – it’s personal. Trails function to bring people together through shared experience and therefore generate and enhance an area’s social capital. Having adequate social capital can be very beneficial when a community is met with a challenge requiring collaboration, cooperation, or common action among residents.

Rail trails have been called the 21st century’s “town square”, representing meeting places to socialize, exchange ideas, and get to know their neighbors. In this way, trails can capitalize on the social capital that they create and enhance community communications and interactions.

Heritage Preservation/Community Identity

Rail trails also represent an opportunity to celebrate the heritage and history of towns located on the trail. The preservation and restoration of historic buildings and other man-made structures (like rail tunnels,
bridges, etc.) can enhance a community’s identity, highlight historical figures and events and generally boost civic pride. A popular rail-trail can encourage the rehabilitation and reuse of historic buildings; these types of activities are catalysts for future community preservation projects of other buildings.

Reuse and rehabilitation of historic resources enable those assets to continue to contribute to their community and will offer succeeding generations the opportunity to appreciate the history of places that the rail trail passes through.

Conservation & Environmental Benefits

Rail trails are linear greenspaces with all the expected and traditional conservation benefits of open space. They help preserve important natural landscapes, provide needed links to create wildlife corridors between fragmented habitats, and offer important opportunities for protecting plant and animal species. Rail trails that lie along watercourses (like the HRTCP) are also assets in the preservation and protection of wetlands and the improvement of water quality. When used as transportation alternatives to the auto, as noted above, trails can also help with improved air quality. In addition, they can allow humans to experience nature with minimal environmental impact.

Providing opportunities for people to experience and interact with nature fosters appreciation for natural resources and increase the likelihood of those people supporting efforts to preserve and sustain those resources. This support can then be leveraged for environmental stewardship activities.

Transportation Benefits

A rail-trail, with its easy-to-cycle grades and off-road character, is an excellent transportation option with several transportation-specific benefits. As a transportation corridor, the trail provides accessible and safe routes for people to use for work trips or errands, trips to community facilities like local parks or the library, to go to school (primary, secondary and post-secondary), for some shopping trips, or for visiting friends.

Trails are community connectors, within communities and between communities. Rail trails, due to historic alignments that typically went through the middle of towns, offer easy mobility into town centers. This facilitates the exploration of nearby towns without the use of cars.

Health & Wellness Benefits

Pennsylvania has the 24th highest adult obesity rate in the nation and the 14th highest obesity rate for youth ages 10 to 17 a clear indication that Pennsylvanians (and Americans in general) don’t engage in physical activity as much as we should. In fact, only 50% of adults in the United States meet the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommended guidelines for physical activity: 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week, or its equivalent.

By contrast, physical activity, such as walking, running or cycling on a trail, can prevent the development of chronic disease or the progression of existing health conditions.

Along with reducing the risk of disease, physical activity has also been shown to improve individuals’ sleep, functioning and overall wellness. A single instance of physical activity can decrease blood pressure and anxiety symptoms while improving sleep, insulin sensitivity and cognition throughout the day the activity is performed.

Rail trails are non-discriminatory towards people, they benefit people of all ages, abilities, gender, ethnicity or race and are free! They are particularly suitable for families to exercise together, being accessible and safe for children. As attractive places to walk and bike, they are desirable to use and studies find people are more likely to exercise on a scenic trail giving them the added benefit of being in touch with nature. Trails provide a cost-effective way to exercise and provide a place for people to see others doing physical activities – a visible social support, which researchers have found to be an effective tool to encourage participation in physical activity.

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