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May 15--Update May 15: York County Industrial Development Authority chair Jack Kay announced Tuesday, May 15, that the Yorktowne Hotel will be a Hilton hotel.

The York City landmark will become a part of Hilton's Tapestry collection -- hotels the company says have "an individual spirit that offer a genuine sense of place."

Other Tapestry hotels include the Graham Washington DC Georgetown, a "boutique" hotel; the rustic Tailwater Lodge Altmar on the Salmon River in New York; and the Troubadour Hotel New Orleans near the city's French Quarter.

Reported earlier: Planners for the $30 million Yorktowne Hotel renovation project want locals to win contract bids, and to achieve that goal, they are hosting an informational and networking event to prepare them for success.

"It is not often that we have $30 million being invested in our city in one project," said York County Economic Alliance president and CEO Kevin Schreiber.

Schreiber announced Tuesday, March 6, that the alliance and the York County Industrial Development Authority, in partnership with construction manager Kinsley Construction, would host an informational and networking event, Get Connected to the Yorktowne, Tuesday, March 20, at Crispus Attucks Community Center.

He said the event would provide the opportunity to connect contractors with small businesses of all sizes and backgrounds and show them how to bid a public project the size of the Yorktowne.

"You're busy people, you're pulled in 1,000 different directions," Schreiber said of small business owners. "It is sometimes a daunting task to take a step forward into a publicly funded and publicly bid project."

He said the goal of the advisory committee of community stakeholders, who came together for the York City project just over a year ago, was to broaden the awareness of the project and ensure local participation, so that as much of the project as possible was done by the county and for the county.

The committee includes representatives from Crispus Attucks, HACC York, Penn State Department of General Services, Martin Library, York College, York County Hispanic Coalition, York County School of Technology and Downtown Inc as well as York City Mayor Michael Helfrich and state Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York City.

With more projects to work on, businesses will be able to hire and access training opportunities for individuals within the community, said committee member Mike Jefferson, director of employment and training at Crispus Attucks and an officer with the Black Ministers Association of York County.

"This is a new bar that we are setting in York County, and a new path that we are creating for this project and future projects," Schreiber said.

Summer bids: The Yorktowne project, which will be in its demolition phase for the next three to four months, is expected to be on track to take bids by the summer.

Blanda Nace, project manager for the YCIDA and director of strategic development for the YCEA, said that so far the project has four contracts awarded.

James Craft & Son, a Newberry Township mechanical contractor; I.B. Abel Inc., an electrical contractor headquartered in Manchester Township; NuTec Group and JDB Engineering, an architect and an engineering consultant, respectively, in Springettsbury Township; and Kinsley Construction in York City are involved in the project.

Nace said it was critical to try to keep the money the project has received from state grants, donations and raised capital in York County so it could be spent in the county and create jobs in the county.

Networking event: Kinsley will give businesses information on how to be pre-qualified to meet their standards and review, so the businesses will be looked at more favorably in the bidding process, Nace said, and the YCEA will provide resources on how to bid and grow their businesses.

"Because (the YCIDA is) a public authority, we are expected to take the low bid, and sometimes you'll have companies from 100 miles away that will low-bid a job," he said.

Nace said splitting the job into multiple contracts -- such as 20-30 subcontracts -- will help smaller contractors be a part of the project.

He described a similar situation as having one painting contractor for a large building, saying, "If you can break that into 10 painting contracts, then we can have 10 painting contractors working in the same job."

Jefferson said projects of this scope will always have big contractors like Kinsley involved, but, "We want to get smaller contractors that can't afford to do the whole project but can have a piece of the profit."

Minority focus: Jefferson implored minority-owned businesses to attend the networking event.

"I've seen firsthand the need to reach out to our growing and diverse populations and increase their economic well-being and purchasing power," he said.

Jefferson said Crispus Attucks has workforce development initiatives, such as a charter school that does construction training, a center for employment and training that provides instruction for ages 18-24 in manufacturing and construction trades, and customer service-based training for individuals in the community to work in the hospitality industry.

"It's not just a physical project," he said of the Yorktowne reconstruction. "We understand that (we're) building it, but at the same time we wanna help rebuild lives."

"The (YCIDA) feels extremely strongly about the inclusion of minority, women-owned and local-owned business enterprises," Nace said. "It's very important to us that the money stays local and that everybody has a chance to participate in this project as much as possible."

York City Councilwoman Edquina Washington said the project is a fantastic opportunity for those businesses "to be able to have a seat at the table and to be able to build and be a part of the Yorktowne Hotel redevelopment."

Family ties: "I have a personal stake in this," said Jefferson, whose father-in-law, John A. Lambert, spent 54 years working at the Yorktowne Hotel.

"He was one of the best waiters and service providers at the Yorktowne, so I wanna see the Yorktowne come back to its original grandeur," he said. "It's been a mainstay of the York hospitality industry."

"My mother used to work at the Yorktowne Hotel," said York City Councilwoman Judy Ritter-Dickson. "Back in the day, the only thing that most minorities did was work in the kitchen."

"We're both native Yorkers," she said of herself and Washington, "and we know the growth and development of York is very important, especially for our younger people."

She believes it's important to get involved and stay involved to have a better opportunity for new projects coming through the city.

Next steps: Nace estimates the project will reach completion during the summer of 2019.

Spending is on track so far, and the $30 million price tag, which he referred to as a goal for fundraising, is a number he hopes to bring down as the project continues. The Yorktowne project was originally slated for $20 million in spending.

After the project is through its demolition phase, interior construction will begin with new walls, new mechanical and electrical systems and paint and drywall finishes, he said.

For local contractors interested in bidding on the project, register at ycea-pa.org for the free informational and networking event, held from 4-7 p.m. March 20 at Crispus Attucks, 605 S. Duke St., in York City.

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