Participants, from left, include: Joshua Cumens from Philadelphia; Lily Jones from Pittsburgh; Brent Whiting from Lansdale; and Jared Brackbill from Carlisle. Not pictured is participant Kathleen McGuire from Mars, Pa.
Five prospective residents, families land in Emporium to test out living in the PA Wilds
Participants are part of the 2023 Wilds Are Working program
The five remote workers selected to live in Emporium for the month of July have arrived for their month-long stay, and many gathered to celebrate the kick off of the experience over dinner on July 8.
Participants for the Emporium program include Joshua Cumens, an electrical engineer from Philadelphia; Lily Jones, a communications specialist from Pittsburgh; Brent Whiting, a director of information systems based in Lansdale; Jared Brackbill, a store planner from Carlisle; and Kathleen McGuire, a geologist from Mars, Pa.
Held at Rich Valley Wines in Emporium, the event provided an opportunity for the participants to meet with members of the Emporium Wilds Are Working Welcome Committee. The Welcome Committee is a local group that is led by the Cameron County Chamber of Commerce and Artisan Center and is implementing the Wilds Are Working program in the community.
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.
“It was so nice to get to know Jared, Lily, Joshua and Brent, and learn more about what their hopes are for this experience and their futures,” said Abbi Peters, COO at PA Wilds Center. “Ultimately, we want this to be a positive experience for everyone involved, and these kinds of social gatherings hopefully help the new residents settle into the community a little easier to make the most of their four-week stay.”
Community members in Emporium have also been noticing the new window wraps installed in the downtown storefronts. These window wraps 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.
“The window wraps show off different areas of the county, and it has been fun watching people discover who is highlighted in the windows,” said Tina Johns Solak, director of the Cameron County Chamber. “When the ‘Be a part of a team’ wrap was installed, residents were looking to see if their son was highlighted since the photo captured the Cameron County High School football team.”
Solak also noted that the Welcome Committee is planning several other gatherings for the participants, including a picnic, a painting experience with a local artist and a final farewell ice cream party to close out their stay.
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.
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.
Britt Madera | Communications Manager
PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc.
[email protected] | 570-948-1051