The rural landscape known as the Pennsylvania Wilds boasts 29 state parks, eight state forests, two National Wild and Scenic Rivers, some of the darkest skies in the country, and the largest elk herd in the northeast. It is also home to hundreds of small businesses — both those you’d expect (outdoor recreation outfitters and woodworkers) and those that might surprise you, such as high tech manufacturing and artisanal printing. We spoke with Ta Enos, founder and CEO of The PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship about her long relationship with the area, and how an exciting partnership with Ben Franklin Technology Partners provides an additional boost to local innovators.
In our latest episode of Key Change, we spoke with Brandon “Brandy” Schimp, the recently re-elected mayor of Kane, PA, a charming town up in the PA Wilds — McKean County to be exact. In recent years, this historic hamlet and gateway to the Allegheny National Forest has garnered a lot of attention for its revitalized main street and passionate small business community. We chatted with Mayor Schimp about what drove her to run for office, the latest developments in Kane, and why the area’s natural beauty remains its greatest asset.
Back in 2018, Keystone Edge ran a story on Hazelwood Green, the new neighborhood rising from a 178 acre brownfield on the banks of the Monongahela River in Pittsburgh. Where once they made steel, the forces behind this massive mixed-use project hoped to foster innovation and collaboration, building out public spaces, bike lanes, transit, apartments, cutting-edge offices, retail, and waterfront recreation trails. Three years and one global pandemic later, we wanted an update. How have the plans evolved? Are they still on track? What’s coming next?
The conversation around how and particularly where we work has grown increasingly lively over the last few years. Remote work, co-working, digital nomads — all these terms entered the lexicon. Then the pandemic hit and we became a work-from-home nation overnight. (I’ll take a moment here to shout out the essential workers who didn’t have that option and who continue to deserve our respect and gratitude.) Now, as offices reopen and our schedules fill back up with travel and social engagements, these questions — How? Where? For how long? — are back in a major way.
For many of us, the pandemic changed our relationship to food. We cooked more. We shopped differently. We looked to local farms. This company out of Pittsburgh has been working for more than a decade at the intersection of technology and agriculture, so they were perfectly poised to meet the moment.
It’s impossible to delve into the last year without invoking a roller coaster. Enter Waldameer Park & Water World, a 125-year-old amusement park on the shores of Lake Erie. Let’s hear from Vice President of Operations Brian Gorman about how this local institution leaned into all the twists and turns 2020 had to offer, and how they’re feeling going into the 2021 season.
In this episode, we spoke with Tiffany Wilson, the new CEO of the University City Science Center in West Philadelphia. The Science Center has been around for almost 60 years, and the campus has grown into a powerful engine of growth through its work commercializing promising technologies, cultivating talent, and connecting like-minded folks, whether they be global leaders in tech or neighborhood kids hoping to hone their STEM skills. Wilson came on board in late summer 2020, stepping into a challenging role in a particularly challenging moment.
In this episode, I chatted with Chelia Huettner and Nate Boring, two of the five partners behind Zoetropolis Cinema Stillhouse. In 2018, the team took a legacy art house theater in downtown Lancaster and transformed it into a combination movie house, restaurant and distillery. It was that last element of the business that helped keep them afloat during shutdowns, along with creative use of their outdoor space and a new delivery arm.
On this episode, we chat with Daniel Egusquiza, executive director of Barrio Alegría in Reading, Pennsylvania. Pre-pandemic, the organization used arts programming and neighborhood cleanups to engage their local community. These days, they’re…well, using arts programming and neighborhood cleanups to engage their local community. But that doesn’t mean things haven’t changed. The group has been forced to adapt and modernize — and in the end, they hope to come out of the pandemic with even more arrows in their quiver.
This past year has been full of unexpected challenges, both here in PA and across the globe. We’re using this new podcast series, Key Change, to talk about how the state’s businesses, community leaders, and creatives have adapted, finding new ways to connect with their customers and their communities. We’re also using these conversations as a way to archive this historic time and look forward.