KANE – Remote working has become much more common since the pandemic, and the beauty is that it can be done from anywhere – so why not Kane in early fall, when the leaves are at their peak?
For six lucky workers from across the state and nation, their luck begins next week.
Kate Kennedy, executive director of the Kane Area Development Center, explained.
“PA Wilds received a grant to pilot two communities to invite remote workers to come, to test what it is like to ‘live and work in the wild. The first test community was Bellefonte in July. The second is Kane, and the program runs from September 26 to October 14. It’s called the Wilds are Working remote work program. Funded by Ben Franklin Technology Partners through the Appalachian Regional Commission, this project serves as a building block to address rural out-migration and market PA Wilds communities as places to live and work great for remote workers.
“The grant provides payment for lodging and an allowance to spend money at area retailers,” Kennedy said.
The KADC and Kane Area Chamber of Commerce screened 70 applicants, narrowed it down to 15 and conducted interviews, choosing six people. One person is from Denver, Colorado, another from Arlington, Virginia, while the others are from other parts of Pennsylvania, around Philadelphia.
“They are remote workers with a variety of jobs,” she said, explaining that their professions are cybersecurity, therapist, branding and marketing, IT work for a program. exchange student and two writers, one who writes for Wires and the other for Sports Illustrated.”
The group met virtually to get to know the others involved, and Kennedy explained that each participant was paired with a local person with similar interests. “We hope they can associate and do activities together,” she said, adding that she hopes they can explore nature more when they are here.
Workers who participated in the Bellefonte project provided a lot of feedback on the program, she said. “It was such a wonderful experience for them.”
When Kane officials interviewed applicants for the program, they learned what prompted them to participate.
“A lot of them come from the cities,” Kennedy said. “A lot of them want to try a smaller place. One of the common things we heard was the idea that there are more connections in a small town.
“They’re looking for a way to make a connection and have more impact,” she said.
When the program was first introduced, the Philadelphia Inquirer published an article about it, indicating how many contestants had heard of the program.
“One person had family ties in the area,” Kennedy said, “another person had a cousin who made it to Bellefonte.
“The criteria we were looking for were people who did not already live in the PA Wilds and who might be considering moving to the PA Wilds, or had some type of job that could add value to our community and/or move the word how awesome this corner of the state is,” she continued.
Workers will stay at various locations in the community – one at Kane Manor and five at Airbnbs. “Two are coming with a partner and three are bringing pets,” Kennedy said, “I think they’re already planning to share the experience with other people they care about.”
Kennedy said she was excited about the program for many reasons, but the biggest one is simple: “I love Kane. I think everyone involved in this project really loves this community. The greatest excitement is sharing what we love about this region.
“Whatever comes out of it will be positive and great,” she said. “We’re rural, sometimes it feels like people who don’t have a lot of experience in rural communities have stereotypes that aren’t always positive.
“I think anytime we can give people the chance to experience the rural experience for what it really is” is a positive. “We are redefining rural for people.