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 two 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, because in addition to the jobs it creates, it also creates amenities that make it easier for our region’s larger employers to attract and retain talent, and improves quality of life for residents. Visitors currently spend an estimated $1.8 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, 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.
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, PREP Network, DMOs and other stakeholder networks.
2018-2019 Combined Annual Report released!
See past reports & learn more!
Our Board of Directors
- Chair: Kate Brock, Executive Director, Community Education Center of Elk & Cameron Counties
- Vice President: Sam MacDonald, President, Elk County Catholic School System
- Treasurer/Secretary: Shane Oschman, Bradford
- Cathy Lenze, VP Marketing & Sales, Straub Brewery
- Scott Dunkleberger, Retired, PA Dept. of Community and Economic Development
- Dan Glotz, Warren County Planning Director
- Nick Hoffman, Community Initiatives Coordinator, Varischetti Holdings
- Kathleen Jones, Manager, Retail Marketing for Zippo
- Beth Pellegrino, Vice President of People and Culture, Whirley-DrinkWorks!
- Deborah Pontzer (ex officio), Economic Development Workforce Specialist, Congressman Glenn Thompson’s office
- Meredith Hill (ex officio), PA Wilds Director, PA Dept. of Conservation & Natural Resources
Download our Board of Directors Application Form