Since buying the Rocky Springs Entertainment Center nearly eight years ago, Fred and Sherry O’Neill have learned a lot the hard way. Initially, they were discovering the ins and outs of the bowling business, realizing it was far more complicated than they had imagined.

More recently, the O’Neills were educating themselves on the best ways to further modernize and diversify. Now, the result of their informal but intense schooling is about to become visible — a $1.9 million expansion and renovation that will boost the business significantly, they believe.

“We feel pretty strong about this project,” said Sherry O’Neill. “We’re certainly going into this very knowledgeable and very confident that what we have created is going to be successful. It’s what the area needs and what the area wants.”

Construction at the 1495 Millport Road property is expected to begin later this month. Completion is set for August.

Rocky Springs will stay open for business the entire time. Rocky Springs will add laser tag, expand its private-party room, replace its small bar with a new sizable bar and restaurant, add an arcade and add a redemption center (where customers exchange tickets they won at the arcade for prizes). Other work will include replacing carpeting and seating, and remodeling bathrooms. Scenic Ridge Construction is the project’s general contractor.

All told, the West Lampeter Township project will add 6,300 square feet to the 31,600-square-foot facility, where bowling has been offered since 1954. The improvements will lead to 12 to 15 new jobs at Rocky Springs, which now employs 25 on a 6.9-acre property. Financing includes a $910,000 loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 504 program plus a loan from Orrstown Bank. The funding package was arranged by EDC Finance, a nonprofit that connects area businesses with state and federal loans and grants.

It’s the second time that EDC Finance has aided the O’Neills, having arranged a $183,000 SBA loan toward their April 2009 purchase of Rocky Springs from AMF for $370,000.

“We feel that continued reinvestment in entertainment venues such as Rocky Springs is a key component to community and economic development in Lancaster County,” said Lyle Hosler, the nonprofit’s director of finance.

Township manager Dee Dee McGuire said she was “pleased” to see Rocky Springs growing, saying the township “does what it can” to help West Lampeter businesses succeed. McGuire noted that she attended a private Christmas party at Rocky Springs last month. Rocky Springs provided “good food and good service.”

“The group I was with really enjoyed themselves,” said McGuire.

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