“Unique tourist destinations like the Elk Country Visitor Center support Pennsylvania’s tourism industry and help create and sustain local jobs,” Corbett said. “Attendance at the center has grown to 200,000 tourists annually, each spending money and supporting local small businesses.”
The Elk Country Visitor Center is nestled on 245-acres owned by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) in Benezette. The non-profit Keystone Elk Country Alliance (KECA), a Pennsylvania based wildlife conservation organization, operates the center using money raised from the private sector.
The center, however, is open year round and includes a 4-D story theater with special effects that explore the sight, smells and sounds of the area; interactive and interpretive exhibits; wildlife trails and viewing areas; wagon rides; year-round restrooms; and parking for cars, RVs and buses. DCNR currently is finalizing a 35-year agreement with the Keystone Elk Country Alliance, which has doubled its staff over the past several years.
"At the Elk Country Visitor Center we provide a clear, consistent conservation education message and a quality elk viewing experience,” KECA President and CEO Rawley Cogan said. “Our business partners provide the amenities our guests need, such as great food and lodging, so that together we deliver the highest quality Pennsylvania elk country experience."
Nine jobs were created to operate the center. Its gift shop provides more than 60 small local vendors and artisans with a new market opportunity. The number of lodging establishments near the center has almost doubled; three wineries have popped up – all with an elk theme; and local stores and restaurants are expanding.
Accompanying the governor during his visit were representatives of the newly established Benezette Wines and Wapiti Woods, which will be expanding its guest cabin and lodging business in Benezette Township from six to 10 cabins creating three new jobs. For more information about the Elk Country Visitor Center, visit www.ElkCountryVisitorCenter.com or call 814-787-5167.
Provided by Commonwealth Media Services