The PA Wilds continues to see economic growth.

Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary C. Alan Walker announced money for two small business expansions Thursday that will promote the Wilds and spur business growth and job creation in north central Pennsylvania.

“Supporting the growth of small business remains a top priority of the governor. They are an economic driver that accounts for nearly one half of the state’s private sector employment,” Walker said. “Today we are helping two rural small businesses expand and create jobs.”

An $85,516 Film Tax Credit was awarded to TomBob Outdoors and Continuous Metal Technology to film the second season of the show, “Friends in Wild Places,” which airs on the Pursuit Channel. The show promotes the outdoor products of the two Pennsylvania-based companies as well as other lawn, garden and automotive products.

The companies, TomBob Outdoors and Continuous Metal Technology, which underwrite the cost of the show, have seen a spike in demand for products as a result of the release of the first season. Due to the show’s success, more than 10 new jobs are expected to be added to the existing 24 positions.

“What we’re focused on is not only introducing people to our products but to introduce everyone to enjoying the great outdoors in and around Pennsylvania,” TomBob Outdoors CEO Tim Smith said.

After a year of searching for a way to market its products, the show was created. The show brings a national audience into the wilds of Pennsylvania and shows them how TomBob Outdoor products are used.

Smith said the show goes into 60 million homes on a weekly basis through the Pursuit Channel. This year the show was bumped into a prime time slot.

A $200,000 Small Business First Loan was awarded to enable cabin rental company Wapiti Woods to expand operations. The company, located in Benezette Township, will build four new rustic cabins. The cabins, located in heart of The Wilds, offer a quiet retreat for visitors to enjoy the Pennsylvania scenery. The expansion will create three new jobs.

Ten years ago, Steve and Coleen Kronenwetter of Wapiti Woods were walking the railroad bed on their 40-acre property wondering how the beauty they were taking in could and should be shared.

“We walked in on the front side of the elk tourism initiative that would become the PA Wilds,” Steve Kronenwetter said.

The business has seen the growth in the surrounding area in outdoor recreation, through the creation of the Elk Country Visitors Center, and the growth of other local businesses. As a result, Wapiti Woods has also been able to flourish.

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“We’ve been blessed with the best of the best, all of it. Everything has allowed us to keep pace with our cabin business plan and being able to add four more guest cabins on our 10-year anniversary this October,” Steve Kronenwetter said.

Thursday’s event took place on location at one of The Wilds’ biggest success stories, the Elk Country Visitor Center.

As elk bugled in the background, President and CEO of the Keystone Elk Country Alliance Rawley Cogan said the center is in its fourth season of operation and, since September 2010, the center has had more than 500,000 visitors.

The news conference continued “DCED on the Road,” a series of events across north central Pennsylvania to discuss Gov. Tom Corbett’s plans for economic growth, job creation and community development.

Walker and DCED representatives are spending four days traveling throug Cameron, Clearfield, Elk, Jefferson, McKean and Potter counties, visiting successful projects and meeting with community, economic development and tourism partners.

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