The PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc. (PA Wilds Center) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to integrate conservation and economic development in a way that strengthens and inspires communities in the Pennsylvania Wilds.
The Pennsylvania Wilds, one of the state’s 11 official tourism regions, is a large rural area that covers about a quarter of the Commonwealth and is home to about 4 percent of the state’s population. The 12 1/2 –county landscape is known for its 2+ million acres of public land — more than Yellowstone National Park. It also boasts two National Wild & Scenic Rivers, the largest wild elk herd in the Northeast and some of the darkest skies in the country. It has a rich oil and lumber heritage.
Tourism currently accounts for about 11 percent of the region’s economy. It is not the only piece of the pie, but it is an important piece. In addition to the jobs it creates, tourism also creates amenities, which make it easier for our region’s larger employers to attract and retain talent and improve quality of life for residents. Visitors currently spend an estimated $1.7 billion annually in the Pennsylvania Wilds.
Many local partners are involved in the effort to grow nature and heritage tourism in the region as a way to create jobs, diversify local economies, inspire stewardship and improve quality of life. The PA Wilds Center is the coordinating entity among these partners.
The PA Wilds Center’s work is sustained through program fees, philanthropic giving, government grants, and entrepreneurial activities related to the Pennsylvania Wilds brand.
2020-2021 Combined Annual Report released!
The nonprofit PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc. has released its Bi-Annual Report for 2020-21, detailing some of the regional nonprofit’s top achievements over the two year calendar period. As the 2020-21 report coincides with the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, some of those accomplishments included the following: publishing a Facebook live interview series, Wilds Are Working: Rural Entrepreneurs in Uncharted Times, that paid small rural businesses $250 to share pivots and reopening strategies; conducting outreach to the WCO to better understand the impacts of the pandemic on small businesses in the PA Wilds, the results of which were published in a white paper, Early Impacts of COVID-19 on the Rural Pennsylvania Wilds Initiative; and hosting the online PA Wilds Makers Market, which featured live business spotlights, including demonstrations or tours, pre-recorded videos, and live posts and interactions with business owners.
2020 – PA Wilds Center Releases White Paper on COVID-19 Impacts
PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc. released its White Paper on the Early Impacts of COVID-19 on the rural Pennsylvania Wilds Initiative in May 2020 to state partners, the region’s county commissioners, state and federal legislators, the PREP Network, Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) and other stakeholder networks.
See past reports & learn more!
Check out our Coverage Book featuring a roundup of articles spotlighting our region!
Our Board of Directors
- Chair: Shane Oschman, Nonprofit Consultant
- Vice Chair: Beth Pellegrino, Partner/Senior Consultant, J.L Nick & Associates
- Treasurer/Secretary: Jason Fink, President/CEO, Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau
- Matt Marusiak, Land Protection Manager, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
- Kate Brock, Executive Director, Community Education Center of Elk & Cameron Counties
- Scott Dunkleberger, Retired, PA Department of Community and Economic Development
- Kathleen Jones, Manager of Retail Marketing, Zippo
- Erik Coolidge, Former Tioga County Commissioner
- Elisha Pospisil, Director of Curriculum and Technology at Forest Area School District
- Rob Swales, CEO of Clearly Ahead Development
- Meredith Hill (Board Advisor), Director of the PA Wilds and Conservation Landscape Program, PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Interested in joining our Board of Directors? Submit a Board of Directors Application Form
- Ta Enos, CEO, PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc.
- Julie Iaquinto, CFO, PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc.
- Abbi Peters, COO, PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc.