Thompson Announces $98,000 Grant for PA Wilds to Establish Business Incubator in Kane
BELLEFONTE, Pa. – U.S. Representative Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson today announced a federal grant that will help the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc. (PA Wilds Center) establish a business incubator/accelerator in McKean County that will serve businesses across the Pennsylvania Wilds region.
USDA Rural Development has approved a grant of $98,000 for the business incubator/accelerator that will be located in Kane, Pa. Additional public and private-sector funding will bring the total project cost to $193,000.
“This is tremendous news for the PA Wilds Center, and I appreciate its vision for further economic development with the business incubator project,” Rep. Thompson said. “The job creation and retention that can occur from this project will further promote our spectacular public lands, wildlife, scenic trails and everything in our region that is associated with our great outdoors.”
"We are thrilled to have the opportunity to develop a physical space to help expand the PA Wilds Center’s commerce platform selling local products sourced from The Wilds Cooperative of PA," said PA Wilds Center Executive Director Ta Enos. "This business incubator, called the ‘PA Wilds Media Labs,’ will be outfitted with specialized technologies and classroom space to help rural businesses in WCO connect with customers online and in the physical world and sell products and services so they can thrive and create and sustain jobs. Multiple positive factors combined for the selection of this location, and we look forward to releasing more information about the project in September. This is an exciting development for all members of WCO, not just those located in McKean County; once complete, the impact of the space will be felt through our entire regional value chain.”
“We want to thank the Congressman for his support. Several months ago, his staff worked with North Central Regional Planning and Development Commission to arrange a seminar about USDA grant opportunities, which really got us looking at how we could partner with USDA to accomplish shared goals in our landscape,” Executive Director Enos continued. “The Congressman followed up with a support letter for our application. We are excited to get started.”
ABOUT THE PA WILDS MEDIA LABS
The site was selected due to its proximity to key PA Wilds Center’s staff and creative partners as well as to flagship conservation shops – both existing and proposed. The business incubator/accelerator will service 13 counties in the North Central to North West counties in Pennsylvania. It will be called The PA Wilds Media Labs, and there is nothing like this in Kane or the surrounding areas.
This proposal would move this landscape level effort forward by establishing an incubator/accelerator space for the WCO that would allow the PA Wilds Center to continue to expand its commerce platform, create more jobs, create wealth opportunities, create professional development opportunities, and allow many rural businesses to grow within its regional supply chain.
More than 250 businesses participate in The Wilds Cooperative of PA program. The Center projects businesses in the value chain will create 30 new jobs a year, thanks in part to this USDA investment. Last year, businesses in the WCO reported that the Wilds effort helped them create 44 new jobs and save 81.
The project location is about 15 miles away from the flagship PA Wilds Conservation Shop located at the Kinzua Bridge State Park. It’s a prime location for e-commerce and product shipping capacity. The Laughing Owl Press Company has granted PA Wilds with a 10-year, rent-free lease, and other funding partners stepped up to help PA Wilds at the space.
PA Wilds Center will release more information about the project in September.
This project will benefit 13 counties that serve the Pennsylvania Wilds region. Including: Warren, McKean, Potter, Tioga, Clinton, Lycoming, Cameron, Elk, Forest, Clarion, Clearfield, Jefferson, and northern Centre counties.
ABOUT PA WILDS CENTER
The PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc. (PA Wilds Center) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to integrate conservation and economic development in a way that strengthens and inspires communities in the Pennsylvania Wilds.
The vision of the Pennsylvania Wilds Conservation Landscape is to help revitalize rural communities through sustainable tourism development -- all while inspiring a stewardship ethic in residents and visitors.
Since being launched in 2003, the effort has had a significant and positive impact on both the businesses and communities in the region and partnerships have been a hallmark of this success.
ABOUT USDA RURAL DEVELOPMENT
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas.
This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care, and high-speed internet access in rural areas.