This spring the E-Update took a short vacation while we upgraded the PA Wilds Resource Center website and its related communications systems. Be sure to check out the site’s fresh new look, which provides for easier navigation of the various programs and services offered through the PA Wilds Initiative. Later this summer we’ll be incorporating facebook and other social media as another tool to help keep rural PA residents informed about what’s going on with sustainable tourism development in the 12 ½ county PA Wilds region. Stay tuned!
| More than two dozen businesses across the Pennsylvania Wilds region have
been awarded mini-grants for new signs through a popular program
offered by the PA Wilds Planning Team.
PA Wilds Business Signage Grants are designed to encourage
businesses in the Pennsylvania Wilds to improve their prospects – and
the look and feel of their communities – by utilizing the Pennsylvania
Wilds Design Guide in the creation and construction of new signage.
The Design Guide is a voluntary planning document that highlights
how communities in the Pennsylvania Wilds can protect or enhance their
rural character as they grow – whether that growth is due to tourism,
resource extraction or other industries. It promotes such things as
using natural materials or themes the region is known for – wood, stone,
water, wildlife – in construction, design or landscaping.
“The region’s rural and historic character and strong sense of place
is part of what makes the Pennsylvania Wilds attractive to visitors and
residents, so it is important for us to be good stewards of these
characteristics as we grow,” said PA Wilds Planning Team Chair Matt
Quesenberry, of Elk County. “Part of our job as the Planning Team is to
give our communities tools to accomplish this. That’s what we’re trying
to do with the Design Guide and our related grant programs.”
Last year’s signage grant program led to the creation of 27 new
business and community welcome signs. It leveraged nearly $30,000 in
private investment, helped businesses improve their bottom lines and
triggered other community investments. This year’s program has proven to
be equally as popular. The business signage grants were for up to
$1,500 and required a dollar-for-dollar cash match. So far, 52
applications have been received; 25 were funded, leveraging more than
$73,000 in private match dollars. Still to come are community signage
grants, which the Planning Team intends to offer in the fall, and a
Design Grant program, which launches this month (see next item).
Funding for the programs has come from a wide variety of sources, and
many of the dollars would not have been possible if not for the high
degree of collaboration and strategic planning that is a hallmark of the
PA Wilds effort. “The fact that all these different stakeholders are
working together to accomplish something regionally definitely helped us
secure these grant funds,” Quesenberry said.
The PA Dept of
Conservation & Natural Resources, which manages much of the public
land in the
PA Wilds and is a main partner in growing the region’s
sustainable tourism industry, is helping fund
the signage and design
grant programs. DCNR Secretary Rick Allan said DCNR’s continued support
of the program reflects the hard work, collaboration and real successes
being documented on the ground.
“A strategic and sustainable approach
to community and business development is what the PA Wilds regional
initiative is all about,” he said. “DCNR is pleased to be able to invest
grant resources to assist our business and community partners in
implementing these kinds of sustainable tourism principles,”
Other partners involved in the signage and design grants include the
PA Department of Community & Economic Development; and the National
Park Service’s Preserve America Program. The Planning Team, Lumber
Heritage Region and the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission
have been instrumental in applying for, securing and administering the
Photo: A sign created through last year's Community Signage Grant program. The program will re-open this winter
|Does your community or business have design needs? If so, the
Pennsylvania Wilds Planning Team would like to invite you to apply for
its Design Grant Program.
But don’t delay – applications are due August 1.
to help from the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, the
PA Dept of Community & Economic Development and the PA Dept of
Conservation & Natural Resources, the Lumber Heritage Region and the
PA Wilds Planning Team have received funding from the National Park
Service’s Preserve America Program to promote use of the Pennsylvania
Wilds Design Guide.
This summer, the Planning Team will award
mini design grants (approximately $5,000 to $10,000) to 5 to 7 projects
across the region. Revitalization partners or business owners involved
in designated Route 6 Heritage Communities; Preserve America
Communities; or Main Street areas; or those working in communities with a
similar state of project readiness, are eligible and encouraged to
For details on how to apply, go to
www.pawildsresources.org and download the guidelines and application
under the “News” button, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
||Calling all artisans:
need marketing help?
A dozen skilled local artisans and nine new retail establishments were accepted into the Pennsylvania Wilds Artisan Development Initiative this Spring, nearly doubling the size of the PA Wilds Artisan Trail.
The PA Wilds Artisan Development Initiative aims to raise the visibility and profitability of artisans and arts-related businesses in the PA Wilds by branding high-quality, locally-made artisan products with the “Proudly Made in the Pennsylvania Wilds” brand so these products can command a higher price; and by helping get more of these items to market by establishing an Artisan Trail and an online presence for the program so artisans can more easily market their products to residents, visitors, design professionals and the like.
“Our jury session this spring brought a lot of new talent into the program,” said PA Wilds Small Business Ombudsman Ta Brant, who helps oversee the project. “One of our new artisans salvages slate and makes great household products like light switch covers and tables out of it. We also added some incredible jewelry makers and two experienced bird wood carvers to the program. Another couple makes custom farm tables out of vintage wood – just a ton of great stuff.
“We really want to encourage building design professionals to check out the work of these local artisans and others at www.PAwildsArtisans.com,” Brant said. “Incorporating locally-made artisan products into building designs is a great way to make a project stand out. Not to mention buying local helps grow our rural economy.”
In addition to the new artisans, nine retail establishments were added to the PA Wilds Artisan Trail, bringing the trail to 25 stops total and representing a wide variety of shops, from traditional galleries to rustic lodges, state park facilities, outfitters and coffee houses. “Visitors and residents are encouraged to stop in to these businesses and check out the work by local artisans. Artisan products make great gifts or additions to the home or office.”
To learn more about the PA Wilds Artisan Trial or to view work samples by PA Wilds Juried Artisans, go to www.PAwildsArtisans.com.
Close to 150 elected officials, business owners and community leaders gathered in St. Mary’s this spring to get an update on the PA Wilds Initiative and honor 16 residents and local organizations for their outstanding contributions to sustainable tourism development in the PA Wilds region.
Each year, the PA Wilds Planning Team, a guiding body for the Initiative, gives out a small number of “Champion of the Pennsylvania Wilds” awards to recognize outstanding efforts related to the main components of the PA Wilds Initiative -- economic development, planning, community revitalization, community character stewardship and conservation.
This year’s winners were:
Michelle Bogacki, Ridgway Main Street Program
Kurt Smith, Sq. Spaces One, Ltd.
Rick Henrich, Rock, River & Trail Outfitters
Brenda Adams Weyant, Clarion River Municipal Partnership
Julia McCray, Northwest Great Outdoors Visitor Bureau; Forest County IDA
James V. Brown Library
Peggy Durant, PA Wilds Vacation Rentals
PA Wilds Juried Artisan Photographer Curt Weinhold
Jersey Shore High School Outdoor Club
Keystone Elk Country Alliance
Sylvan Heritage Council
Steve Kronenwetter, Wapiti Woods Guest Cabins
Ross Porter, Mansion District Inn, Smethport mayor
Sandy Mateer, Redbank Renaissance, Inc.
Lycoming College Clean Water Institute
Marsh Creek Greenway Partnership
Congrats to all! To read about the incredible things these people and organizations accomplished, go to www.pawildsresources.org.