BEDFORD COUNTY, Pa (WTAJ)– Members of the Wolf Administration toured multiple small businesses in Bedford Tuesday afternoon to celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week and Small Business Week.

These officials worked for the state’s Department of Community and Economic Development. They went through four different businesses located on Juniata Street and Pitt Street in the town.

In Pennsylvania, more than 1.1 million small businesses employ over 2.5 million people. Small businesses are vital to the state’s economy; they account for 99.6% of Pennsylvania-owned companies.

During the two-hour tour, the team met with the owners from Pigeon Hill Studio, Juli’s Wearable Art, Bedford Candies, and Next Door. From there, they listened to their stories about how they started their businesses. Deputy Secretary of Marketing, Tourism, and Film Carrie Fischer Lepore was impressed by their determination and resilience.

“Each individual owner not only just coped but thrived through their own personal experiences throughout the pandemic and covid,” Fischer Lepore said. “Each had to pivot, but had an individual story on how they managed to lean on their community and come out stronger than they were before.”

All these businesses were around before the pandemic. The owners described that community members were the main reasons their door remain open today because of their overwhelming support. Deputy Secretary of the Office of Technology and Innovation Stephen D’Ettorre said that the success he saw only proves that future small business owners can start in this area.

“If you have a community that’s welcoming to small business and entrepreneurs, it provides a support system in place,” D’Ettorre said. “Then, it also has successful examples that can be done in this place or other places of Pennsylvania, which goes a long way to show success can happen for each individual.”

Community was the theme that both secretaries heard throughout their tour and played a vital in these small business owners success. It shows that they play an essential role in the community’s authenticity and economic growth.

“Every story we heard was different, and everyone had their own journey,” Fischer Lepore said. “But the one reoccurring theme was community, and that’s something undeniable in this town is the sense of community.”

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“A common theme was they were self-driven,” D’Ettorre said. “Bet on themselves, reliant on the community that exists in Bedford, and the community supported them back. So I thought those were common themes that I saw today. It was great!”