11 remote workers, families to live, work and play in the PA Wilds this summer
Emporium and Warren to host guests in July, August respectively
This summer, individuals and their families will experience the Pennsylvania Wilds region during the second year of an initiative designed to show off rural communities as ideal places to live and work.
Emporium in Cameron County and Warren in Warren County will serve as host communities for eleven remote workers throughout July and August 2023.
The Wilds Are Working: A Remote Lifestyle Experience, developed by the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship (PA Wilds Center), is a collaboration with several partners and funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) through Ben Franklin Technology Partners. Participating community partners are provided a toolkit and resources to help them position their communities as part of the PA Wilds and prime locations for 21st century workers.
Dozens of applicants from around the globe applied for the opportunity, and eleven lucky individuals – and their families – have been selected.
Tina Johns Solak, executive director of the Cameron County Chamber, said that Emporium was so thrilled with Cameron County’s applicants that the community increased their funding to support one more family this year. Cameron County will now host six individuals and their families, partners and, in some cases, pets, for an experience that will allow them to learn about small-town living, what it’s like to have easy access to outdoor recreation opportunities, and more.
Aside from sharing details about themselves and why they would be a great fit for an outdoorsy community, a core part of the application process was developed to help applicants evaluate their own readiness to relocate.
“The committee focused on those ready to relocate and seeking the opportunity to leave big box stores and strip malls behind,” said Solak. She noted that this year’s attendees to Emporium are visiting from Massachusetts, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and the Carlisle areas.
“The Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry is honored to have been given this exciting opportunity to host five remote workers during the month of August,” said Savannah Zimmerman, a chamber team member. “We are most excited about meeting these new people, and their companions, and hearing their outsider perspective and feedback about our community.”
Zimmerman noted that the initiative gives the organization an opportunity to learn about the opinions and “honest reviews” of their town, and that the planning team hopes to be able to take feedback and make changes that can attract other workers to the community.
“We hope these five people fall in love with Warren County as they are fully immersed in our picturesque landscape, active nightlife and diverse entertainment options, and taste the authenticity of what our small town with big charm has to offer. After all, Warren County is a great place to visit but an even better place to live.”
Steve Brawley, President/CEO of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern PA, says that the Wilds Are Working: Remote Lifestyle Experience is a great opportunity for workers who are working from home in crowded, expensive areas.
“I would love to tell people in New York, and DC, and Boston that you can live here and have a lifestyle, costs, and opportunities that you can only dream of affording in the large metros,” he said before last year’s Wilds are Working experiences.
Both communities will see window wraps installed in downtown storefronts that show off nearby natural assets and outdoor recreation opportunities in the PA Wilds. This is part of the same initiative, designed to provide the remote workers with inspiration for activities and to help them truly picture what their everyday lives could be like as full-time residents
About the Wilds Are Working
The Wilds Are Working: Recreation and Technology in Rural PA campaign seeks to raise awareness about the PA Wilds being a great place for remote and non-remote workers to live, work, and play. An initiative of the PA Wilds Center, in collaboration with several partners and funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission through Ben Franklin Technology Partners, the initiative was piloted in two communities in 2022, with funding available for additional communities to participate in 2023 and 2024.
As part of the initiative, the PA Wilds Center developed a toolkit, incentivization package and application portal that will allow other regional communities to take advantage of the program in years to come.
With an eye toward tackling the challenges that come with outmigration and a dwindling tax base, the Wilds Are Working campaign seeks to empower workers to try out living, working, and giving in the PA Wilds communities for one month with a hope that some of those participants will decide to work in the region full-time. Modeled after case studies emerging from across Appalachia and the nation, this program is one of many that rural communities are implementing to incentivize and stimulate revitalization.
Participants receive housing accommodations for the month, along with a living stipend that can be spent at local establishments via a digital gift card. More information about where the stipend can be spent can be found at https://bit.ly/pa-wilds-gift-card.
In 2022, the Wilds Are Working: Remote Lifestyle Experience campaign was piloted in the communities of Bellefonte (Centre County) and Kane (McKean County). Individuals and their partners and/or families lived in these communities in the months of July and September. This year, Emporium and Warren will serve as host communities. The 2024 host communities will be announced in early 2024, with a formal application anticipated to open in fall 2023 at PAWildsCenter.org/Wilds-Are-Working.
ABOUT THE PA WILDS
The Pennsylvania Wilds is a 13-county region that includes the counties of Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Forest, Jefferson, Lycoming, McKean, Potter, Tioga, Warren, and northern Centre. The PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc., is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to integrate conservation and economic development in a way that inspires the communities of the Pennsylvania Wilds. The PA Wilds Center promotes the region as a premier outdoor recreation destination as a way to diversify local economies, inspire stewardship, attract investment, retain population and improve quality of life. The PA Wilds Center’s core programs seek to help businesses leverage the PA Wilds brand and connect with new market opportunities, including: the Wilds Cooperative of PA, a network of over 300 place-based businesses and organizations, and the PA Wilds Conservation Shop, a retail outlet primarily featuring products sourced from the WCO. For more information on the PA Wilds Center, visit www.PAWildsCenter.org. To learn more about the WCO, visit www.WildsCoPA.org. Explore the PA Wilds at www.pawilds.com. Find regionally made products at www.ShopThePAWilds.com.
For media inquiries, please email:
Britt Madera, Communications Manager at the PA Wilds Center — [email protected]
John Sider, Vice President of Business Development, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central & Northern PA — [email protected]
Ellen Matis, Wilds Are Working Project Manager; Founder + CEO, Hello Social Co. — [email protected]
Tina Johns Solak, Cameron County Chamber — [email protected]
Savannah L. Casey, Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry — [email protected]