(MONTPELIER, VERMONT) -- Last Wednesday, more than 40 members of the Vermont Outdoor Industry gathered at the Vermont State House, presenting a foundation of economic data and calling for specific actions to help protect and grow this diverse economic sector.
Attended by a group of more than 40 equipment manufacturers, publishers, retailers, outfitters and marketers, the event and press conference was hosted by Pale Morning Media (Waitsfield), Mammut USA (Williston), Outdoor Gear Exchange (Burlington) and Height of Lands Publications (Jeffersonville). Attendees included representatives from Rome Snowboards, Onion River Sports, Turtle Fur, Julbo Eyewear, Press Forward PR, Petra Cliffs, Pinnacle Outdoor Group and others.
“At the national level of the Outdoor Industry, Vermont brands truly stand out with leaders in every category – gear makers, retailers, outfitters, publishers – yet here in Vermont the group remains isolated in silos. Retailers over here, suppliers over there, skiers over here, hikers over there,” said Drew Simmons, president/founder of Pale Morning Media and one of the event organizers. “Nationally, the places where the Outdoor Industry is succeeding the most are the places where those walls and silos have come down, and the Outdoor Industry is recognized as the essential multifaceted economic sector that it is.”
The event included a presentation of current statistics regarding the Outdoor Industry, the Outdoor Recreation Economy, and the Outdoor Consumer, as provided by the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA).
The group called for an Outdoor Industry job count within the State of Vermont, modeled after the federal bill recently proposed by Congressman Peter Welch.
The group also requested the creation of an economic focused Outdoor Recreation Director role within the State administration – tasked with promoting and supporting the growth of all Vermont businesses that provide services and products in the Outdoor Recreation Industry as well as being the central point of support at the state level for the diverse constituents, businesses, communities and groups that rely on the continued health of the Outdoor Recreation Industry in Vermont.
“In the past, the Outdoor Industry has been perceived as a bunch of unrelated communities: anglers and skiers, climbers and paddlers. But in the future, to embrace and grow this economic segment, it’s important to see it as the multi-faceted economic driver that it is,” said Bill Supple of Mammut, one of the event organizers. “The first step is to fully understand the size and scope of the Outdoor Industry as an economic sector in Vermont. The second step is dedicating a point person to this sector, to embrace it and bring it together, to retain and grow businesses in the sector, and to help it continue to be a key part of the Vermont brand.
According to OIA,142.6 million Americans participated in at least one outdoor activity within the last year for a total of 12.1 billion outdoor outings. In Vermont, at least 74% of Vermonters are outdoor consumers who participate in outdoor recreation each year.
Other statistics cited at the event included a summary of the Outdoor Recreation Economy in Vermont, which includes $39.7 billion in state and local tax revenue, $2.5 billion in consumer spending, 34,000 direct Vermont jobs, $753 million in wages and salaries and $176 million in state and local tax revenue.
“We’re not lobbyists. We’re not legislators. We’re business owners. And we see the rising prominence of the Outdoor Industry on a national level, every day," added Simmons. "The Outdoor Industry is a non-partisan, broad-based economic driver. It’s geographically agnostic for the most part – as it is comprised of multiple and numerous activity-based communities … some small, some large, some that you’ve probably never heard of. But when they’re brought together, when they’re embraced as a whole, the Outdoor Industry has the potential to be a major economic driver for the entire State of Vermont.”