A Look at 2022: PA Wilds Center impacts and program growth
As we reflect on 2022, the Pennsylvania Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship has a number of things to celebrate and be proud of. The nonprofit’s mission is to integrate conservation and economic development in a way that strengthens and inspires communities in the Pennsylvania Wilds. Throughout the past year, the PA Wilds Center has started and continued many projects to further that mission and benefit local communities and families through entrepreneurship.
The PA Wilds Center’s “entrepreneurial ecosystem” helped accomplish those projects and goals in 2022. What is an entrepreneurial ecosystem? These overlapping parts of our organization work in tandem, helping to incubate creativity and innovation and marshal resources and connections to help entrepreneurs succeed.
The PA Wilds Entrepreneurial Ecosystem is built around a place-based brand, the Pennsylvania Wilds, a designated tourism region of Pennsylvania known for its public lands, outdoor experiences, maker culture, stewardship ethic and rural lifestyle. Through the locally led and state-supported regional strategy, the Center is able to grow rural PA’s outdoor recreation sector to help diversify rural economies, create jobs, improve quality of life, inspire stewardship, attract investment and retain population.
Value Chain Network
The Wilds Cooperative of Pennsylvania added 120 new members in 2022! This brought total WCO membership to 486 as of December 31, 2022. The WCO is a value chain network of creative entrepreneurs, organizations and communities based in the PA Wilds, leveraging the place-based brand while gaining access to branding and marketing tools, networking and education opportunities, new markets and product lines, and mentorship and referrals to PA’s financial and technical service programs.
The PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship staff made 30 presentations throughout 2022, reaching 1,018 people. Center staff presented to Gayle Manchin (Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission) when she was visiting the region, and at numerous events, including the Six&Kane grand opening, the Appalachian Gateway Community Workshop, the Outdoor Economy Conference and many more.
Trademarked Logo and Licensing
The PA Wilds’ licensee program also grew in 2022, with two new merchandising licensees and 18 new marketing licensees. That makes a total of 8 merchandising licensees and 63 marketing licensees. These organizations use the PA Wilds logo and other brand assets to promote their products and enhance their regional ties, while also increasing the PA Wilds brand awareness and supporting our mission.
At the PA Wilds Conservation Shops and the online PA Wilds Marketplace, $12,600 was collected for Charity Checkout for Conservation to support the PA Parks and Forests Foundation’s projects to improve state parks and forests in the PA Wilds. A total of $46,817 has been raised by the Charity Checkout program since it began in 2019.
Throughout the year, the PA Wilds Conservation Shops generated more than $500,000 in gross sales. Ninety percent of the products featured at PA Wilds Conservation Shops are made in the PA Wilds. The PA Wilds Center, the nonprofit that manages the shops and the PA Wilds Marketplace, spends thousands of dollars each year buying inventory and value-added products directly from local businesses and craftspeople for the Conservation Shops, creating important work opportunities that support families and communities.
In 2022, the PA Wilds Conservation Shops welcomed 9 new shop vendors from the PA Wilds, making a total of 42 shop vendors who live and work in this region.
Meanwhile, specifically on the PA Wilds Marketplace (ShopThePAWilds.com), 11 new sellers joined the online platform for a total of 23 sellers overall.
The PA Wilds also held 10 events in 2022, including the PA Wilds Dinner + Awards, held at Bald Birds Brewing in Jersey Shore, Lycoming County, with approximately 200 people in attendance at that specific event.
Continuing to provide valuable opportunities for WCO members has been a priority for the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship. Among many other referrals (such as Ben Franklin Technology Partners, Covation Center’s MasterClass and programs through local small business development centers), the PA Wilds Center was able to refer 16 individuals to the new Creative Entrepreneur Accelerator Program, which provides grants to entrepreneurs in the creative industries through the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.
In addition to the referrals the PA Wilds Center made for WCO members to be part of other organizations’ programs, 33 entrepreneurs also participated in PA Wilds Center’s professional development programs.
Regional Lifestyle Marketing
The PA Wilds visitor-facing website, PAWilds.com, continued to grow in 2022, with 571,000+ pageviews.
The social media reach grew as well, reaching 23,000 followers on Instagram and 33,368 followers on Facebook.
Thank you for your support of the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship during 2022, and thank you for making this year as productive and successful as it has been.
About the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship
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 create jobs, diversify local economies, inspire stewardship 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 regional products at www.ShopThePAWilds.com.
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