U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and John Fetterman (D-PA) this week announced a $736,000 grant for the Pennsylvania Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship to stimulate growth in the region’s tourism and outdoor recreation workforce. The grant from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce will be matched with $1.5 million in local, state, and other funds to help rural North Central Pennsylvania communities, including many coal communities, diversify their economies, create good-paying jobs, and incentivize new investment.
“The Pennsylvania Wilds has worked for years to grow tourism and outdoor recreation in 13 counties in North Central Pennsylvania,” said U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA). “Their work showcases our state’s crowning natural resources and stimulates local economies, creating jobs for Pennsylvanians where they live. This economic development grant will help the PA Wilds to expand its work to strengthen the region’s outdoor recreation workforce and support rural economies.”
“As mayor of a former steel town, I saw first-hand how communities across Pennsylvania need the kind of economic investment this funding will provide,” said Senator Fetterman. “This grant for the Pennsylvania wilds to expand their tourism and outdoor recreation workforces will be critical for the continuing success of the region and help spur economic development.”
Senators Casey and Fetterman have long fought to protect the PA Wilds region. In May, Casey and Fetterman sent a letter to U.S. Department of Defense officials to express concern regarding a proposal to lower the altitude floor at which pilots can fly in the Duke Military Operating Area (MOA), which could have consequences for the environment, wildlife, outdoor recreation, quality of life, and local economies in North Central Pennsylvania. In February, Casey announced funding for manufacturing investments for coal communities to bring good-paying energy jobs to communities that have powered the U.S. for generations. The funding, in the form of tax credits, stemmed from provisions he fought for in the Inflation Reduction Act to incentivize clean energy projects in “energy communities,” areas whose economies and jobs are or were dependent on the coal, oil, or natural gas energy sectors. In December 2021, the Pennsylvania Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship was awarded $500,000 as part of the Build Back Better Regional Challenge, an American Rescue Plan initiative that allocated roughly $100 million for coal communities, to support the region’s emerging outdoor recreation industry by capitalizing on the growing tourism market through recreation infrastructure development, workforce development, and incentivizing private investment. Senator Casey continues to advocate for additional federal resources to allow the PA Wilds to further the mission to preserve natural resources, invest in its outdoor recreation and tourism industry, and help revitalize communities across the 13-county region.
This project is funded under the Assistance to Coal Communities (ACC) initiative, through which EDA awards funds on a competitive basis to assist communities severely impacted by the declining use of coal. ACC projects support economic diversification, job creation, capital investment, workforce development, and re-employment opportunities.