Appalachian Arts Studio and Museum
I’ve always struggled to make my loan payments. The Progress Fund always believed in me and encouraged me even during down times in my business, helping me to get through them. And now I’m paying off my loan. The Progress Fund is awesome and has proven to me that, when someone believes in you, you can do anything.
What’s hot enough to draw 30,000 visitors to far northern Pennsylvania in mid-February? The answer, since 1998, has been the Ridgway Chainsaw Carvers Rendezvous, the largest non-competition chainsaw-carving event in the world. Founders Rick and Liz Boni decided to turn the log-to-art phenomenon into a year-long draw by launching the Appalachian Arts Studio and Museum. But they faced the problem many tourism entrepreneurs do: “Our local bank was not willing to give us the loan we needed,” says Liz.
A team including The Progress Fund, Pennsylvania’s First Industries Fund, Northwest Savings, the North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission, and the Clarion University Small Business Development Center helped the Bonis put together a business plan and secure $185,000 in financing.
The Bonis are transforming an abandoned factory complex into a studio and museum expected to draw artists and tourists year-round. When complete, it should secure Ridgway’s position as the capital of chainsaw artistry. That’s one way to carve out an economic niche!View Story as PDF