Remote workers welcomed to Warren as part of the Wilds Are Working
All photos provided by Rosie Marketing for PA Wilds Center.
This August, as part of the Wilds Are Working: Remote Lifestyle Experience, four individuals and their families with the capabilities to work remotely are immersing themselves in Pennsylvania Wilds life.
Visiting from three states in addition to Pennsylvania, these remote workers are trying out what it really means to live, work, and play in Warren — in the Allegheny National Forest and Surrounds Landscape of the PA Wilds.
Funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission through Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern PA and administered by the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc., this program seeks to help address the issue of outmigration in rural areas by marketing PA Wilds communities as great places to live and work.
Originally piloted in summer 2022, the initiative allows remote workers to live, work, volunteer, and explore all that the rural region has to offer. Participants could come from anywhere in the world, as long as they have a sense of adventure and the ability to work remotely.
Applicants from across the United States applied to live and work with most expenses covered for one month in Warren.
Savannah Casey, administrator of the program on behalf of the Community Lead Organization in the area — the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry — said that this month’s participants are connecting with the community in a lot of unexpected ways.
“It’s been great to see the remote workers and the welcome committee work together in creating little ‘pop-up’ gatherings,” Casey said.
“Most mornings they gather for coffee at our local coffee shops, have lunch together at Innovault, and meet during the evening for dinner or drinks. Music in the Park has been a gathering point, and almost all the guests have brought their dogs, so they venture to the dog park and walking trails together.”
During the month of August so far, they’ve visited the Warren County Fair, had a bonfire at a community resident’s home, and have planned a bike ride and hike at the Trails at Jakes Rocks in the Allegheny National Forest. Before departing at the end of the month, they’ll gather for a final time to enjoy a farewell party at Bent Run Brewing.
Getting to know Warren’s Wilds Are Working: Remote Lifestyle Experience participants:
Participants, from left, include: Anna Hall from Scottdale, Ga.; Ben Lisowski from Glenshaw, Pa.; Derrick Dahl from Appleton, Wis.; and Ben Goshow from Indianapolis, Ind. Photos by Rosie Marketing for PA Wilds Center.
“Each guest brings their own unique flavor to our group and outlook to our community,” Casey said.
Ann Hall is participating from Scottdale, Ga. Her husband and their two lab mixes are joining her. “Ann is passionate about helping churches and has made valuable connections to our local church leaders,” Casey said. “We are grateful for her lending support to our local pastors and congregation.”
Ben Lisowski, of Glenshaw, Pa., is participating and works as a project manager. His wife, Marisa (who works for a medical device company, also remotely), and their dog, have been fully immersed in all the exciting events and activities in Warren County. “Ben is a Trails at Jakes Rocks advocate and supporter. It’s been great to see him interact with the other guests about his passion for being outdoors,” said Casey.
From the state of Indiana, Ben Goshow is experiencing Warren during the month of August. His wife, LaDonna, and 6-year old son, Oliver, have had a lot of fun, family-friendly activities to partake in. “Ben Goshow and his family are a prime example of how two parents can work remotely, with kids, and make it work,” Casey said. “They fit right into the Warren community with ease and the childcare facilities and programs have been more than welcoming to their son, Oliver.”
Derrick Dahl is visiting Warren County from Appleton, Wis. His partner, Michael, and their 2-year-old Westie-poo, Ainsley, have the opportunity to experience the rural community with big town amenities. “Derrick and his partner have said how thankful they are that our community is inviting and have been pleasantly welcomed with open arms,” Casey said. “It’s a different pace of life for them, but they’re enjoying the opportunity to explore a landscape diverse from their home.” She hopes that the couple will experience firsthand the inviting atmosphere that Warren provides during their stay.
Embracing a new kind of economy
Casey says that the Warren County community is positioned to handle an influx of remote workers.
“We’re a community that is going through changes, and as we evolve, we need to be open to the idea that the ‘traditional’ employee model might not look the same as it did a dozen years ago, or more. We want Warren to be an active and attractive community for remote workers to choose living here,” she said.
Photo: The Warren Welcome Committee. Left to right, 1st row: Tiffany Marino, Kassie Damcott, Pat Evans, Piper VanOrd. 2nd row: Phil Gilbert, John Papalia, Savannah Casey, and Jim Decker.
Remote workers visiting the community will find a picturesque downtown that features a coworking space, coffee shops, farmers markets, interesting community events and more. All just steps away from outdoor recreation opportunities in the Pennsylvania Wilds.
With the departure of this month’s visitors in Warren comes the close of the 2023 Wilds Are Working season. This fall, communities in the PA Wilds 12.5-county region will have the opportunity to apply to participate as a Community Lead Organization in 2024’s program. To stay up-to-date with the Wilds Are Working initiative and find out more about next year’s program, visit WildsAreWorking.com.
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