Picture yourself in Bellefonte and Kane with window wraps highlighting downtown opportunities
By Cara Aungst
This year as you explore destination towns Kane and Bellefonte, you’ll be able to see all of the cool stuff that is already happening along with a glimpse of the new things that could be just around the corner. Both towns are part of the PA Wilds “The Wilds are Working” window wrap campaign, where large scale window graphics show off local entrepreneurs who are already in the community and highlight assets that present opportunities for new startups and emerging businesses to join in the momentum.
Here’s a look at how each town is promoting the opportunities in their own area.
“The Wilds are Working window wraps are a visual representation of the wonderful outdoor places that people might not be aware of around Kane,” says Kate Kennedy, Executive Director of the Kane Area Development Center. “We have some really cool hidden gems because the town is in the middle of the Allegheny National Forest. We have a great rail trail. Within the town, there’s a skate park and a disc golf course that sometimes gets hidden.”
The initial pilot program included wraps on four downtown buildings, and were unveiled during Alumni Weekend — a big celebration weekend for the community. Kennedy teamed up with local Laughing Owl Press and local photographer Alex Bond to bring their window wrap vision to life. “It was really nice to fill empty storefronts with beauty, art and color.”
Kennedy says that the messaging on the window wraps says “Picture yourself in the PA Wilds, a place where adventure begins,” and it’s something that is very true in her own life.
“I grew up in Kane and then moved away for twenty years,” she said. “When I came back for Alumni Weekend in 2018, it was the same summer that Table 105 and Twisted Vine were opening and I said, ‘What’s happening here? I want to be part of it!’”
“A job opened up and I came back. I love it here. It’s a great place to raise a family. It’s very connected, and it’s exciting to see the momentum that it has right now. Plus, I love being in nature, and there are so many outdoor opportunities here. We get to redefine what rural looks like. In Kane, it means innovation and opportunities, all in a really great place to live.”
Downtown Bellefonte’s Main Street Manager Jennilyn Schuster says that the window wraps installed throughout their downtown have been a big hit. “We keep hearing, ‘These are really nice — are we going to get more of these?’” she said. “We’re trying to show the community a taste of what’s to come.”
Bellefonte placed their window wraps in three locations — a vacant spot where a new business could land; the local coworking space Bellefonte SpringBoard; and a mobile sign that will move around town.
“We chose to go aspirational with our signs, and showcase how great Bellefonte is,” she said. “We wanted to inspire new businesses and highlight opportunities. A new outdoor outfitters shop, wine bar, cafe or bakery would be great.”
Each sign highlights the community’s natural and entrepreneurial assets, as well as nearby PA Wilds assets, and features a QR code to help viewers quickly find more about the program, and provide information for aspiring business owners.
“We want to make it easy for talent to picture themselves as part of our business community,” Schuster said.
Picture yourself here
“These window wraps are a way for us to spruce up Main Streets, downtowns and other gateway corridors,” Abbi Peters, COO of the PA Wilds Center says. “We want to show people that things are happening in both of these communities, giving entrepreneurs an opportunity to fall in love with a building, and fall in love with a town.”
Peters added that the project is a way for each community to focus inward on their plans for economic development, how to revitalize their ecosystem, and look at the potential for their town. “There are so many opportunities available, but outdoor recreation is really getting a lot of attention in rural communities. It’s a $689 billion industry nationally. As an outdoor recreation destination, the PA Wilds is packed with public lands and recreational assets that both connect and inspire communities like Bellefonte and Kane. Now is a time to shine.”
“We’re really excited about this opportunity that was made possible by Ben Franklin Technology Partners,” Peters said. “They recognize that place-making is a great entry point to retain and attract local talent, especially in the tech sector.”
About the Author:
Cara Aungst lives in Central PA with her husband, two dogs and five kids (who are all taller than her). She writes about travel, innovation and industry in the heart of Pennsylvania. You can reach her on LinkedIn or by emailing CaraAungst@gmail.com.
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