CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Five remote employees from across the country are living, working, and giving back in Bellefonte this July through a new program called “The Wilds are Working: A Remote Lifestyle Experience.”

The participants were selected from a pool of about 50 and are based in diverse locations, including Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and even Los Angeles.

“I drove out from California,” said Nora Noone, a participant. “I’m realizing that as beautiful as California is, so is Pennsylvania in ways that I didn’t realize as a kid growing up.” 

Noone said the experience is her trial run to experience what it would be like to make this short-term experience permanent.

“I went away this weekend and I found myself really excited to come back to Bellefonte,” said Noone. “Everyone seems really excited about living in this community.” 

Participants are provided housing and a stipend. In addition to working and exploring, they’re volunteering locally and creating window displays that highlight areas for revitalization.

The pilot program is led by the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship and funded by the Ben Franklin Technology Partners through the Appalachian Regional Commission.

“The success that we’re seeing will be able to hopefully help roll it out to other communities with the Wilds,” said Jennilyn Schuster, main street manager for Downtown Bellefonte Inc.

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The program will move to Kane, Pennsylvania in September 2022.