PA Wilds Center receives grant from EDA for planning

PA Wilds Center receives grant from EDA for planning

Funding will support plans to stimulate growth of region’s tourism and outdoor recreation


PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship LogoThe Pennsylvania Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship (PA Wilds Center) will receive a $736,000 grant from the Economic Development Administration (EDA), meant to stimulate growth in the region’s tourism and outdoor recreation economy.

The three-year grant from the EDA at the U.S. Department of Commerce will be matched with $184,000 in local, state, and other funds. Through the investment, the PA Wilds Center will develop six plans over the next three years: an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Governance Plan; a Regional Marketing Plan; a Licensing Plan; a Franchise Plan for the Center’s mission-driven PA Wilds Conservation Shop gift shops, which focus on filling gaps in visitor services and improving market access for rural entrepreneurs; and a DEIA (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility) Plan. The PA Wilds Planning Team, one of the longest-standing stakeholder groups associated with the PA Wilds effort, will also complete an update to its 2007 PA Wilds Planning Study through the EDA award.

“This investment will provide concrete next steps, rooted in expert market research and ground-up feedback from our rural communities and partner networks for the growth of our programs, so we can continue to grow rural PA’s $1.68 billion tourism and outdoor recreation sector to help diversify our region’s economy, create jobs, inspire stewardship, attract investment, improve quality of life and retain population,” said Ta Enos, Founder and CEO of the PA Wilds Center. “The studies funded under this investment will ensure the next decade of growth of the work we do in the region is intentional, locally-informed, and tailored to fit our place, aiding greatly in our region’s long-term resilience. We look forward to engaging our partner network on these plans over the next three years.” 

Potter County Planning Director Will Hunt, who serves as Chair of the PA Wilds Planning Team, said the funding is great news. 

“The PA Wilds Planning team will be looking to conduct a strategic plan developing implementation strategies and organizational functions that can enhance the collaborative efforts of both the PA Wilds Planning Team and the PA Wilds Center,” said Hunt.

The Center has arranged its small business development programs into an “entrepreneurial ecosystem” designed to incubate creativity and innovation and marshal resources and connections to help rural entrepreneurs succeed. The PA Wilds Entrepreneurial Ecosystem is built around the place-based brand of the Pennsylvania Wilds and is designed to help the region’s small businesses grow alongside the outdoor recreation economy. Small businesses, nonprofits and agencies in the ecosystem’s core network, the Wilds Cooperative, gain access to marketing and branding tools, commerce and licensing opportunities, professional development resources, peer networking and referrals. It is free to join.

The ecosystem has experienced rapid growth over the last few years, underscoring the need to do these studies, Enos said. Currently, nearly 600 rural businesses and organizations participate. 

“We are thrilled to secure this federal funding and excited to get started,” Enos said. 

This project is funded under the Assistance to Coal Communities (ACC) initiative, through which EDA awards funds on a competitive basis to assist communities impacted by the declining use of coal. ACC projects support economic diversification, job creation, capital investment, workforce development, and re-employment opportunities.



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 and its 2+ million acres of public lands 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 more than 575 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 To learn more about the WCO, visit Explore the PA Wilds at Find regionally made products at



The PA Wilds Planning Team is one of the largest and longest-standing governance structures around the PA Wilds effort. It was formed in 2006 through a groundbreaking Intergovernmental Cooperation Agreement (ICA), the largest geographically of its kind in Pennsylvania. The ICA brings together the region’s county governments, typically through representation of the county planner, the region’s four Economic Development Districts, two Heritage Areas, visitor bureaus, PA Wilds Center, conservation partners and others to work on regional planning issues related to outdoor recreation development.


Media Contact

Britt Madera | Communications Manager

PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc.

[email protected] | 570-948-1051

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