Participants, from left, include: Anna Hall from Scottdale, Ga.; Ben Lisowski from Glenshaw, Pa.; Derrick Dahl from Appleton, Wis.; and Ben Goshow from Indianapolis, Ind. Photos by Rosie Marketing for PA Wilds Center.
Warren welcomes four prospective residents, families who are testing out living in the PA Wilds
Participants are part of the 2023 Wilds Are Working program
The Crary Art Gallery in Warren was filled with new and familiar faces on August 3 as the remote workers participating in the 2023 Wilds Are Working program were officially welcomed to the community.
The four selected remote workers and their families from across the country will be spending the month of August exploring Warren and the surrounding Pennsylvania Wilds as they consider the destination as a potential long-term home.
Participants for the Warren program include Derrick Dahl, a retirement quality assurance specialist from Appleton, Wis.; Ben Goshow, a software developer from Indianapolis, Ind.; Anna Hall, a research and development director based in Scottdale, Ga.; and Ben Lisowski, a project manager for a software company from Glenshaw, Pa.
The Wilds Are Working: A Remote Lifestyle Experience is a collaboration with several partners. Developed by the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship (PA Wilds Center) 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. Local communities also contribute funding toward program implementation.
Featuring catering from Basil & Bones and drinks donated by Bent Run Brewing, the kick-off event at Crary Art Gallery provided a chance for the participants to meet members of the Waren Wilds Are Working Welcome Committee, as well as staff and board members from the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship. The Welcome Committee is a local group that is led by the Warren County Chamber of Business & Industry (WCCBI) and helps to implement the Wilds Are Working program in the community.
To help familiarize the guests with the community, Donnie Rosie, owner of ROSIE Marketing, played a Welcome to Warren video.
“The event was a HUGE success,” said Savannah Zimmerman, Administrative Assistant at WCCBI. “The participants met about 50 people over the course of the two hours and made connections that they have since met up with on their own time. We at WCCBI were very appreciative of everyone who came to welcome our guests. Our community might be rural, in regard to where the participants have come from, but we definitely have a big heart. It’s exciting to have these new faces in Warren, to show them the wonderful things we have to offer and I expect that the remainder of the month will bring more memorable moments together that will last a lifetime.”
“Getting to meet Derrick, Ben L., Anna, Ben G., and their families was an absolute pleasure! I am so excited to see how their experience in Warren unfolds!” said Beth Pellegrino, a Warren County resident who also serves as vice chair of the PA Wilds Center Board of Directors and was able to attend the kick-off event. “There is so much to see and do here in the PA Wilds, and I hope that each of the remote workers and their families are able to get out to see some of the things that make this area so special.”
Warren residents and visitors have likely also noticed some colorful images going up in storefronts around town. Part of the same initiative, the window wraps show off nearby natural assets and outdoor recreation opportunities in the PA Wilds. The images are intended to provide the remote workers with inspiration for activities and to help them picture what their everyday lives could be like as full-time residents
“The window wraps are a much-needed addition to our community that will be staying permanently,” Zimmerman said. “The aesthetics of our downtown business district, on Liberty and Second Avenue, have a new face lift because of them. In spaces that were not being utilized, it’s great to see something new and fresh. Plus, they serve a great purpose for all visitors, and even residents, linking to important community, informative, websites.”
Zimmerman thanked Piper VanOrd for her creativity in the window wrap project. “I greatly appreciate her help in putting the artwork together, and the support from our local manufacturer, AllImage. They made the process super easy and produced high quality products.”
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.
“We are ecstatic to have our new friends for the month of August and are certainly hoping that they will find it in their hearts to move here,” said WCCBI President/CEO Jim Decker.
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