Cultivate Lancaster, is Lancaster County, Pennsylvania’s, hub for entrepreneur and small business resources. Cultivate offers a space for small businesses to identify resources they need, meet with business support organizations, and network with each other. Cultivate also provides a platform for organizations who support small businesses to empower, collaborate, and strategically work towards a more prosperous and vibrant small business economy in Lancaster County.
Mission, Vision, and Values
Cultivate Lancaster informs, navigates, connects, and coordinates entrepreneurs with business resource providers to achieve prosperity and equitable economic growth across Lancaster County.
Cultivate Lancaster is Lancaster County’s recognized point of entry for entrepreneurs and organizations in the ecosystem, to provide equitable access to resources and inform strategies that drive a thriving and diverse business sector.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Cultivate Lancaster is a well-known and loved brand in the City of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The name captures the entrepreneurial spirit of the community as well as its agricultural roots. Started in 2015, Cultivate Lancaster began as an event, hosted by ASSETS and the Lancaster City Alliance, for entrepreneurs interested in connecting and learning how to grow their businesses. The success of the first event quickly grew into bi-annual events that occurred between 2015 and 2020.
In 2017, a group of business support organizations started meeting and discussing how they could better collaborate. This effort was called the Entrepreneurship Coalition and was led by ASSETS, the Lancaster City Alliance, SCORE Lancaster-Lebanon, Community First Fund, Duke Street Business Center, Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce, and Lancaster County EDC among others. The Coalition engaged Nancy Keeler, an independent consultant, to map the local entrepreneurial ecosystem and provide recommendations on how partners could better collaborate and alleviate redundancies in programming.
The recommendations from the initial ecosystem mapping study led to a merger of the Cultivate Lancaster and the Entrepreneurship Coalition with a mission to provide opportunities for entrepreneurs, small business owners, and business resource providers in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to connect, collaborate, and grow. From 2018 until 2020, Cultivate Lancaster Entrepreneurship Coalition launched a revamped website with an in depth map of local resources for entrepreneurs. It held bi-annual events for entrepreneurs and provided a platform for resource providers to meet regularly and discuss new initiatives and opportunities to collaborate.
In early 2020, the Coalition (Cultivate Lancaster’s resources providers) was in place and ready to play a key role as a platform for business resource providers to connect and stay informed on regulatory changes and economic recovery efforts in play for the local small business community. Cultivate Lancaster became the central point of contact for the Small Business Administration to relay information pertaining to local small businesses’ recovery funds and access to federal programs. It played a key role in connecting and orchestrating a multi-organizational local grant and loan fund. From March to July of 2020, the group met every week to discuss updates and plans around small business economic recovery and support. Meetings then shifted from weekly to bi-weekly and then to monthly.
During the recovery efforts the Coalition began to recognize that many of the organizations at the table served, not only startups, but also small businesses. So, participating organizations decided to shift Cultivate Lancaster’s focus from startups (idea phase to two years) to small businesses (with 20 or less employees). This change did not dramatically shift the conversation but opened a door for working on a more formalized structure and planning process for Cultivate Lancaster and this strategic planning effort.
In 2023, Cultivate refreshed its brand and relaunched its website to create more equitable access to local business resources and funding for entrepreneurs and small businesses in Lancaster County. The work of Cultivate is never done as the initiative works to support new businesses and grow a vibrant local economy.
2023-2025 Strategic Plan
The 2023-2025 Strategic Plan outlines ways that Cultivate Lancaster will meet its vision and mission over the next three years. Essentially, the plan is for Cultivate Lancaster to do what it already does but better, more intentionally, and to an audience across Lancaster County. Under this strategic plan, Cultivate Lancaster will engage small businesses through an increased community presence, with opportunities for feedback and participation in programmatic planning, and through thoughtfully curated events. Cultivate Lancaster will continue to support and improve small business programming quality and will now look to support big-picture initiatives, such as expanding equitable access to capital; collaborating across partners through tracking and managing data across organizations; weaving diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts throughout; and, taking on special projections as needed. The purpose behind all of the plans, goals, and activities is to improve small business success rates and to increase economic development in Lancaster County.
This strategic plan is the culmination of seven months of planning, meeting, collaborating, and dreaming for the future of Lancaster County’s small business ecosystem with input from dozens of organizations and individuals across Lancaster County.
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Lancaster City Monthly Merchant Meeting
Jeremy and the team at the Lancaster City Alliance….
Jeremy and the team at the Lancaster City Alliance have done an excellent job of administrating the Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ) and encouraging new technology companies. Their efforts have helped Triode Media Group obtain tax credits and expand our technology offering.
Evan Scudner, Executive Producer, Triode Media Group