In the summer of 2022, two communities in the Pennsylvania Wilds hosted remote workers from all over the nation as part of an initiative meant to position the region as an attractive home and place to visit for those with flexible work locations.
More than a hundred individuals applied to be a part of the Wilds Are Working: A Remote Lifestyle Experience, which allowed them the opportunity to become fully immersed in rural life while working for their existing job, exploring what that lifestyle could mean for them.
Bellefonte, a town in the I-80 Frontier region of the PA Wilds, was one of these communities — hosted five remote workers and their families in July. During their stay, participants lived in short-term rentals, shopped and dined locally, and became a part of community events.
SpringBoard, Bellefonte’s coworking space and small business innovation center for the community, was a highlight-amenity for these visitors. Participants could utilize the desk space, full kitchen, printer, and other amenities — all provided to entrepreneurs and remote workers as part of an economic development initiative there.
But the participants weren’t the only ones with remote work on the brain that summer in SpringBoard.
As more companies made the shift to fully remote work nationwide amid the pandemic, more and more residents and visitors began to utilize coworking spaces as a place to work in a professional environment, on their own terms. As a result, SpringBoard had a record coworking drop-in-pass year.
The Wilds Are Working: Remote Lifestyle Experience participants each had the opportunity to provide feedback about their stay and the amenities. At SpringBoard, remote workers cited the need for more private work spaces, a place to take phone calls, and in general, more room to spread out.
Following survey results, it became more apparent that SpringBoard, which called a 1,000-square-foot space on the second floor of a recently revitalized building home, would need to expand.
“Bellefonte was our first pilot community for the Wilds Are Working, and it exceeded our expectations and set a high standard for what the initiative could be,” says Abbi Peters, PA Wilds Center Founding COO. “Not only did the PA Wilds Center learn from the participants in Bellefonte, but the entire community learned how to better support these types of remote workers and encourage vibrant collaborative spaces like SpringBoard.”
An expansion begins
Launching officially on February 1, SpringBoard opens its doors in a new location at 221 W. High Street, Suite 1300. For locals, this building is known as “The Lofts.”
The second-floor space is in the heart of the downtown, centrally located between coffee shops, within walking distance to restaurants and shopping, and overlooks Spring Creek and Talleyrand Park.
The location boasts more than double the square footage, and includes private work spaces, a rentable conference room, a phone or video-conferencing “booth,” full kitchen, and a lot of amenities.
The expansion won’t just suit coworkers, though. The new location has been designed by Jennilyn Schuster, Main Street Manager for Downtown Bellefonte and a certified interior designer, with the community in mind.
“One of the ways we saw SpringBoard being used more in the last year has been by members of the community, whether they’re attending a workshop or hosting their own event,” said Schuster. “The new location has been designed with events in mind, and can be easily transformed to accommodate business and personal events.”
Programming expands, too
“We wanted to create a space that could be utilized for more than just working,” Schuster said. ‘We created a space for the community and entrepreneurs to learn, create and innovate.”
With that comes new opportunities for education and resources.
One of the most popular workshop series held in SpringBoard in 2022 was the “How to Start a Business in Bellefonte” series, planned by Downtown Bellefonte Inc. alongside community partners. The series answers a lot of Bellefonte-specific questions — like how to work with zoning and code when opening a business, considerations when working with an architect, and more.
When SpringBoard launches again on February 1 in a new location, members and visitors to the space will find an expanded programming schedule. Here’s a look at what’ll regularly be held in the space:
Ask a Lawyer for Small Businesses — Second Monday of each month 11am-12pm, at SpringBoard
Meet with Rod Beard, owner of Beard Law Co. in downtown Bellefonte. Rod can assist with questions pertaining to start ups, protecting intellectual property, business planning and more. His practice emphasizes business and commercial work, from small to large entities.
Ask an Accountant — Last Monday of each month 11am-12pm, at SpringBoard.
Meet with Joe Minich, owner of Ridgeline Business Solutions. The Ridgeline team has experience working with Tree Care and Environmental Service Companies, Residential Service Contractors, SaaS Startups, and Nonprofit Organizations. Their services include bookkeeping, financial and accounting advising, and project work.
Open Marketing Office Hours — First Tuesday of the month, 10-12.
Feel like you’re spinning your wheels when it comes to marketing your business? Pop into SpringBoard during Open Marketing Office Hours to chat with Ellen Matis, Founder of Hello Social Co., an integrated marketing communications professional. She’s there to bounce ideas off of, learn from, and collaborate with.
Ask a Banker — Third Wednesday of each month 11am-12pm, at SpringBoard
Meet with a representative from Arize Federal Credit Union. Arize offers a variety of services for businesses, such as online banking and bill pay for merchants, point of sale solutions, electronic check service, and more. Don’t forget that Arize also assists with small business loans, commercial real estate loans, and investment real estate.
1:1 Sessions with How to Open a Business in Bellefonte Experts
Have questions regarding zoning requirements, building and construction permits, or code inspections? Reach out to schedule a meeting with one of Bellefonte’s top experts that can walk you through the steps of opening a brick and mortar business in downtown Bellefonte.
See a full list of programming at bellefontespringboard.com.