Camp Hill, PA –The Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation (PPFF), produced an informational flyer for visitors and locals in Ligonier as part of The Gateway Community Initiative. The flyer offers ideas for rainy day and sunny day exploration in the Ligonier Valley. The flyer is free and available at the main offices of Linn Run State Park, Laurel Ridge State Park, and Forbes State Forest, as well as Ligonier Valley Chamber of Commerce, Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau, Lincoln Highway Experience Museum, and select locations in the Ligonier area.
Working with McCollom Development Strategies, the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation began the Gateway Community Initiative to introduce visitors of state parks and forests to the region’s heritage, history, and businesses while connecting businesses to the state parks and forests in the region. A committee of civic and municipal leaders from Ligonier and directors from Linn Run SP, Laurel Ridge SP, and Forbes SF met to develop projects and programs to effectively connect visitors and residents to amenities, services, recreational pursuits, heritage, and historic sites found in the parks, forests, and local communities.
Simply put, a gateway community is any community next to public lands. It is a “gateway” to the resource by virtue of its location but a gateway community is also a branding mechanism. Many in a community already recognize the value and the natural mutual goal – parks and forests wants visitors. Town businesses want customers. Residents benefit as a result of having the park and forest nearby and property values increase. Anything that gives a visitor something else to do and see is another reason for him or her to stay a little while longer, spending money and spreading the word about the fun they’re having and the beauty they’re experiencing. The goal of the Gateway Community Initiative is to make sure the state parks and forests and the communities that are the “gateway” to them form an unbreakable partnership for the benefit of both.
“The Gateway Community Project has been a great way for the local business community to join forces with the local state parks and forest and promote what each has to offer,” said Susan Grunstra, Executive Director, Ligonier Valley Chamber of Commerce. “It is my hope that this partnership will continue to strengthen the ties between our beautiful natural areas and our businesses to the benefit of our many visitors.”
“PPFF understands the importance of a relationship between local businesses and the surrounding state parks and forests,” said Marci Mowery, President of the PPFF. “Time in these towns provide the visitor with valuable experiences, not just food and lodging.”
The project, funded through a grant from Richard King Mellon Foundation, is looking to identify other gateway communities across the state.