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 PENNSYLVANIA WILDS E-UPDATE - JANUARY 2013

EDITORIAL

When tourism and product
development intersect.  

By Tataboline Enos

The Pennsylvania Wilds might be best known for its natural attractions but it is also a place where stuff is made -- a place with a rich manufacturing history and a rugged entrepreneurial spirit visible in establishments large and small all across the region. And that’s great news because creating a powerful outdoors economy here isn’t just about bringing visitors in – it’s also about making and selling the products they will want or need to get outdoors.

“The outdoor recreation economy thrives when Americans spend their hard-earned dollars in the pursuit of outdoor recreation,” says a new report by the Outdoor Industry Association. “This spending occurs in two forms: the purchase of gear and vehicles, and dollars spent on trips and travel.”

Just how much do we spend getting outdoors? An estimated $646 billion each year, according to the report – money that directly supports 6.1 million jobs and $80 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues. Those figures dwarf many other industries, including oil and gas, education, construction, and finance and insurance, and have grown steadily at about 5 percent annually – even through the recession. 

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BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT

Homewood Snowboards: Turning a passion into a living

By Tataboline Enos


It started simple. Ryan Williamson and his buddies, Clint Kline and Johnny Mancu, liked to snowboard. 

Ryan and Clint were both 26 and from the Pennsylvania Wilds; Johnny, 25, was from Pittsburgh. The three met a few years ago while living in Clarion, playing music, skateboarding and snowboarding.  

On New Year’s Eve 2010, Ryan got a call from his step-dad back in Bradford: a bunch of used snowboard manufacturing equipment was for sale in Vermont. Was he interested? 

Ryan’s mom and step-dad owned and operated Allegheny Store Fixtures, a manufacturing business in Bradford. Ryan worked at the plant during high school and also took carpentry classes. He liked working with his hands and was passionate about snowboarding. Clint and Johnny were the same way. They decided to take the plunge. Ryan and his folks bought the equipment and Clint and Johnny came on board to help build the boards.  

They set up their equipment in a large warehouse next to Allegheny Store Fixtures and began incubating the business. They named it Homewood Snowboards, a nod to the National Forest that surrounded them and the fact their products were locally made. Ryan’s step-dad helped them get the plant set up; a snowboard industry veteran trained them on the equipment; and Ryan’s mom showed them the ropes on the office side of things. “My mom’s been a real big help with that,” Ryan said one day recently while giving a tour of the plant. 

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  • If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the freshly redesigned pawilds.com website. Kudos to the PA Wilds Tourism Marketing Corporation for its new look. Last year the site attracted more than 65,000 unique visitors. Businesses or event organizers interested in advertising on the site can find more info at: http://www.pawilds.com/advertising/ 
  • New community welcome signage incorporating the PA Wilds logo has been going up in towns around the region thanks to mini signage grants from the PA Wilds Planning Team. Check them out at: facebook/PAWildsResources – great concepts that can be used by towns around the region! 
  • The PA Dept of Community and Economic Development has lowered its Small Business First loan rate from 2.75% to 1.50% through March 31. SBF loan rates are fixed at time of approval for the term of the loan. DCED also lowered rates for the Machinery & Equipment Loan Fund; the Pollution Prevention Assistance Program; the Export Financing Program; and Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority loans. DCED is also waiving fees they charge to borrowers. Something to think about! To learn more about these or other low interest loan programs to help start or grow your business, contact the PA Wilds Small Business Ombudsman at tbrant@pawilds.com.  
  • It was a tough competition with thousands of entries and now it’s time celebrate the winners of the first-ever PA Wilds Photo Contest. The inspiring winning photos (some by PA Wilds Juried Artisans!) will be on display at the Winkler Gallery in DuBois, a great attraction on the PA Wilds Artisan Trail. Hope to see you at the reception Sat. Jan 12 from 3 to 7 p.m! For more info: PaWilds.com/PhotoContest.
  • Know a business, group or individual who has done great things to grow the outdoors industry in your town? Someone whose efforts have helped create jobs, attract visitors, inspire stewardship or improve quality of life? Next month the PA Wilds Planning Team will start accepting nominations for its prestigious Champion of the PA Wilds Awards. Winners will be recognized at a banquet in April. More info will be posted next month on www.PAwildsResources.org!
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Copyright © 2013 PA Wilds Resources, All rights reserved.
The PA Wilds Artisan Trail is funded in part by the PA Dept. of Community & Economic Development's
"Discovered in PA, Developed in PA" program and through grants from the PA Dept. of Conservation & Natural Resources.

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