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Remote workers give feedback on Warren

Times Observer photo by Josh Cotton Derrick Dahl was one of four remote workers to spend August in Warren County as part of the PA Wilds’ Wilds Are Working initiative. Before they left, they offered feedback on strengths and weaknesses they saw in the community.

Part of the draw to participating in the PA Wilds’ Wilds are Working program was the feedback it would provide.

Four remote workers spent August in Warren were able to get a sense for what moving to Warren County might look like. Those remote workers also provided their perspective on strengths and weaknesses in this community. And Warren County Chamber of Business & Industry staff say the issues raised weren’t unexpected. Administrative Assistant Savannah Casey said the wealth of outdoor recreation options and being a bike-friendly community were highlighted, as well as the fact that the community was welcoming for them.

“A couple are interested in possibly buying property here,” she said, something Emporium saw when that community hosted the program. “If we got the same, that’s a win.”

It won’t come as much of a surprise that internet access was a challenge as was downtown parking. Director of Chamber Operations John Papalia said those are “certainly things we’ve heard before.”

Casey said there was also feedback that more fine dining options were needed as well as “people staying open later but they liked what we had.” There was also a call out for defining a place where tourists can take photos. A similar proposal for a sign along the riverfront, Papalia said, could see movement moving forward.

The fact that the feedback wasn’t unexpected isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“It reinforces,” Papalia said, that “the issues we have heard are probably legitimate. There is a need, especially when looking to attract new folks to the community.”

“That list seems to be manageable,” Casey said, “actionable items.”

She stressed that all four workers stressed that the city has an “opportunistic downtown” and a “feel-good small town charm.”

Was the program what they thought it would be earlier this summer.

“The expectation of what you get back, to some degree I think it was,” Papalia said, noting that it was important to remember that the workers were will working jobs while they were here.

“The PA Wilds was a great partner in all of it,” Casey said. “Knowing now we can do projects with the PA Wilds, they see Warren as a place that can accomplish them.”

She said the steering committee that wants to run a similar program on its own next year.

“They’d like to do the program again on our own,” Casey explained, “outside of the PA Wilds because they saw the intangible benefits. They want to run it again in 2024.”

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