Tuesday, May 26, 2020

10 Entrepreneurs Complete Inaugural PA Wilds Professional Development Course

On May 26, Pennsylvania Wilds announced entrepreneurs representing 10 different businesses from across the Pennsylvania Wilds have completed the inaugural PA Wilds PACE Program, a 10-week professional development course to help scale rural businesses. 
“This program truly provided me with a personalized toolbox I can use to ‘do’ my business better,” said Marie Lewis, owner of Pine Springs Pottery and a participant in the PA Wilds PACE cohort. “It did not fully answer and explain every need and question but rather provided me with a starting point and direction for learning more in my weakest areas as well as actions I can take to flesh out and improve those areas where I am already doing well. In addition, it provided a way to really get to know a network of creative entrepreneurs that I would not otherwise have the opportunity to work with - there are already some collaborations in the works.”
While COVID-19 required an online format for the final session, it was nothing new to the participants, who were tuning into Zoom twice a week throughout the duration of the course.  A social banquet / graduation ceremony will be offered once the public health situation improves.
“We are so incredibly proud of all the participants who were able to take this journey with us,” said Abbi Peters, chief of operations at PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc., a regional nonprofit that seeks to marry economic development and conservation in the 13-county region known as the Pennsylvania Wilds. “This group’s ability to work together and have another layer of support throughout the stay-at-home order has again proven the resilience of our region and the value of connecting with peers through a network like the Wilds Cooperative of PA.” 
The Wilds Cooperative of PA (WCO) is a regional business network about 300 members strong that is managed by the PA Wilds Center
In addition to Lewis, participants in the inaugural cohort included: Ryan and Brandi Magaro of Rich Valley Wines, Tim Thomas from Elkwood Arts, Mickayla Poland of PA Made LLC, Christine King from King Krunch Gourmet Brands, Tara Heckler of Blackberry & Sage Market, Kevin Coolidge of From My Shelf Books & Gifts, Kathleen Schnell of Cottage Glassworks, Allison Schanbacher of Lucky Shot Photography and Michellle Munksgard of Icyy Ink Screen Printing.
PACE is an acronym that stands for Plan, Accelerate, Commit and Expand. The program was offered by the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc. and made possible by a partnership with the Covation Center
Valued at $2,500 per person, members of the Wilds Cooperative of PA were able to participate in the PA Wilds PACE Program at no cost thanks to funding from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts
The program will be offered again thanks to funding the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
Covation Center blends curriculum-based and facilitated cohorts with one-on-one mentoring to ensure participants are able to develop their own unique plan for business growth. This model has been successfully demonstrated in the Scale-Up America program and the state Department of Community and Economic Development’s Engage! Program.  
PA Wilds Center infuses information about how businesses can leverage the Pennsylvania Wilds brand and their membership in the Wilds Cooperative of PA to grow their businesses. 
“It has been our goal to offer this type of virtual professional development experience for our rural entrepreneurs for years. To see it come to fruition and hear all the positive feedback from the participating entrepreneurs is extremely rewarding,” Peters said. “We are excited to be able to offer the program again so that even more business owners can continue to grow in our region.”
Learn more and watch for updates, visit the PA Wilds PACE Program webpage and the Wilds Cooperative of PA website.
For information on visiting this unique region, stop by the PA Wilds website.  The PA Wilds includes Warren, McKean, Potter, Tioga, Lycoming, Clinton, Cameron, Elk, Forest, Clarion, Jefferson, Clearfield and northern Centre counties.
[Posted: May 26, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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