YORK – Kristi Olsen-Hayes’ predecessor leading the department of Economic and Tourism Development in York County was known for his passion and enthusiasm for the locality he served. In that regard, her transition appears seamless.
“I have a true passion for promoting Yorktown and York County as a wonderful place to live, do business, and visit,” Olsen-Hayes recently said. “The health and well-being of the area is directly tied to how I earn my living, but it is also where I live and raise my family.”
Jim Noel was York County’s economic development director for nearly 30 years. When the county merged the offices of economic development and tourism development in late 2021, he was put in charge of the new department. After his retirement June 1, Olsen-Hayes was named the acting director.
“I’m excited for this transition and opportunity to combine tourism and economic development and grow the newly formed department and take it to the next level,” she said.
Her roots couldn’t be more firmly planted in York County. She’s a 1991 graduate of York High School, lives in the county with her husband and three children, and has been the county’s tourism development manager since 2002. Her new position seemed liked the next logical step in her career, and the timing couldn’t have been better with the merging of the departments.
“A major part of our economic base is tourism, so bringing them together in York County has more impact than in a community where tourism is less significant,” she said.
However, she also noted with little privately owned land in the county, redevelopment will be important to the county’s future, along with supporting the growth of current businesses.
Among her accomplishments as the county’s tourism development manager: overseeing the opening of the Gallery at York Hall, the launch of the county’s first concert series and farmers market, and the 225th celebration of the victory at Yorktown. She also was a key figure in the development of Riverwalk Landing.
She hasn’t been in the position long enough, she said, to determine the biggest challenges, but she’s respectful of the work by those who preceded her.
“Jim and I were both there for the opening of Riverwalk Landing, and we have worked closely together ever since,” she said. “I’m excited about the opportunity to bring my own style and recommendations to the department. I take great pride in my community and value the relationships I’ve built with local business owners, citizens, and other organizations over the past two decades.”
Her team consists of nine full-time staff members, who also plan and run more than 70 annual events in Yorktown, and oversee waterfront operations and facilities, including Yorktown Beach, the Riverwalk Landing piers, the Freight Shed, and trolley operations.