Remote work initiative launches in Pennsylvania Wilds community
Individuals encouraged to apply by April 30 for Bellefonte live-and-work opportunity
Workers with the flexibility to perform their jobs remotely could now do so during a live-and-work visit to a PA Wilds community. The Wilds Are Working: A Remote Lifestyle Experience, launched in early April by the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, offers that opportunity.
Funded by Ben Franklin Technology Partners through the Appalachian Regional Commission, this project serves one element to address the issue of outmigration in rural areas and market PA Wilds communities as great places for remote workers to live and work.
Piloting in summer 2022 in the PA Wilds community of Bellefonte, this initiative will allow remote workers to live, work, volunteer, and explore all that the rural area has to offer. Bellefonte, just 12 miles from Penn State University Park, is part of the PA Wilds region’s I-80 Frontier Landscape. Applications are now open through April 30 to participate in the July 2022 Remote Lifestyle Experience program at WildsAreWorking.com.
“Programs like The Wilds Are Working: A Remote Lifestyle Experience have had remarkable success across Appalachia and in other rural communities across the country,” said Abbi Peters, Chief Operations Officer at the PA Wilds Center. “We see this as a great opportunity to connect community-focused individuals with towns in the Pennsylvania Wilds.”
Applications will open later this summer for a similar remote work experience in Kane, Pa., another community piloting the initiative.
“Bellefonte and Kane were selected as the initial pilot communities, but our goal is to be able to roll out this program in other communities across the PA Wilds,” Peters said. “This is an opportunity for tech and innovation workers that have the flexibility to ‘work from anywhere’ to explore the PA Wilds and find a community that provides a great quality of life.”
Bellefonte will host up to five remote workers and their partners and/or families (when applicable) in July 2022. Expenses including accommodations, excursions, and more, are covered as part of the experience as a way to inject more dollars locally into the region throughout the initiative. Workers will be offered these opportunities in the form of a digital gift card, only redeemable at participating businesses within the Wilds region.
“It’s our hope that these individuals truly get out and experience everything our community has to offer during their month in Bellefonte,” said Ellen Matis, Board President of Downtown Bellefonte Inc. — the organization managing the Remote Lifestyle Experience in that community. “Whether they want to take a paddle down Spring Creek or grab a craft beverage downtown, the funds provided to them in the form of a digital gift card will help them identify and make these opportunities a reality.”
The same funding opportunities will be provided during the September 2022 Remote Lifestyle Experience in Kane, also made possible through the funding made available to Ben Franklin Technology Partners through the Appalachian Regional Commission.
“For Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central & Northern PA, placemaking projects like this one help to increase the region’s competitiveness for innovation workers and technology entrepreneurs and is part of our broader strategy to retain a workforce made ‘ready’ by the region’s colleges and universities,” said John Sider, Vice President of Business Development, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central & Northern PA. “Partnering with the PA Wilds Center enables this project to leverage the marketing power of the regional PA Wilds brand and its growing entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
Individuals selected for the program will also have the opportunity to give back to that community through volunteering. Applicants will be matched with volunteers based on their unique skill sets or will be provided a host of volunteer opportunities available during the duration of their stay.
“The volunteer aspect is a key component as it allows selected applicants a more meaningful engagement during their stay, and it also provides a resource to skill sets that our communities might not currently have access to,” Peters said.
Applicants will be selected for the Remote Lifestyle Experience after a review of their submission by a committee made up of members of each community. During the application process, individuals are expected to share information about their employment status, what makes them a good fit for the program, interests and hobbies, and a brief introduction video for the committee’s review.
Through the initiative, it is the PA Wilds Center’s mission to showcase that the rural region of Pennsylvania is not just a great place for remote workers to visit, but to move to and live as well.
Peters said, “We hope that by highlighting some of the great assets and features in our communities, this program can help encourage people who may have left years ago to move back home, motivate others interested in a rural lifestyle with modern amenities to join us, and inspire today’s young people and future generations to root themselves in the PA Wilds.”
HOW TO APPLY
Applications are open through April 30 for the Bellefonte Wilds Are Working: Remote Work Lifestyle opportunity. Up to five individuals will be selected to participate in the July 2022 program. Applications can be submitted at WildsAreWorking.com.
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 is home to the greatest concentration of public lands in the Commonwealth. 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 strengthens and inspires the communities of the Pennsylvania Wilds. Based in the region, the Center is the lead nonprofit for the PA Wilds Conservation Landscape effort, a 15+year collaborative effort by local, state and federal partners to establish the region as a premier outdoor recreation destination as a way to diversify local economies, attract investment, inspire stewardship, improve quality of life and attract and retain the region’s working-age population. PA Wilds Center works closely with PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, PA Department of Community and Economic Development, the region’s county governments, and other investors in the regional strategy.
Among its many programs, the PA Wilds Center operates the regional visitor site pawilds.com and related marketing; manages The Wilds Cooperative of PA (WCO), a robust network of makers and other rural entrepreneurs and partner organizations that are helping to grow the region as a destination; houses the PA Wilds Design Guide for Community Character Stewardship, a free planning resource for communities; manages the PA Wilds trademark for the public good; is scaling a commerce platform (brick and mortar PA Wilds Conservation Shops and the online marketplace ShopThePAWilds.com) that fills gaps in visitor services while expanding market access for rural entrepreneurs and raising funds for conservation. The Center is also the fiscal and administrative home of the PA Wilds Planning Team, a regional stakeholder group formed in 2006 through a ground-breaking Intergovernmental Cooperation Agreement.
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 products made in the region at www.shopthepawilds.com.
For media inquiries, please email:
Abbi Peters, Chief Operations Officer 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, Founder + CEO, Hello Social Co. — [email protected]
Jennilyn Schuster, Main Street Manager, Downtown Bellefonte Inc. — [email protected]
Kate Kennedy, Director, Kane Area Development Center — [email protected]