State outdoor recreation directors from across the country are being called to Asheville, N.C., this July to continue building a multi-state vision for connecting Americans with the outdoors, announced Secretary of the N.C. Department of Commerce Anthony M. Copeland. The Asheville Confluence Summit builds on a meeting in Denver this past January, where outdoor industry leaders from eight states gathered for the first time before the annual Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show to discuss shared public policy principles and identify ways their states could work together.
“North Carolina’s outdoor recreation industry supports 260,000 jobs and continues to grow,” said Secretary Copeland. “Hosting the Confluence Summit will give our state an opportunity to share ideas and learn from other states to help grow this industry and recruit more outdoor recreation businesses to the state.”
David Knight was appointed Director of the N.C. Outdoor Recreation Industry Office in January as North Carolina joined seven other states whose governors and legislatures have prioritized investment in outdoor recreation.
“This is a watershed moment for the State of North Carolina,” said Knight. “It opens up new possibilities for collaboration with other states that, like North Carolina, believe the outdoors is a fundamental part of healthy, happy, economically vibrant communities.”
North Carolina is the first state on the eastern seaboard to create an outdoor recreation sector lead, following the model states such as Colorado have used to grow their own outdoor recreation based economies. There are currently eight states – Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming – with an office, director or task force dedicated to the well-being of the outdoor recreation industry and to greater public access to outdoor experiences.
REI Co-op, which works with state governments to advance policies that support the outdoors, is supporting the Asheville meeting with a travel grant to ensure delegations from each state are represented in person.
During remarks at the Colorado Confluence, which REI supported, REI President and CEO Jerry Stritzke said, “These gatherings can be a model for the future. They look to bridge across local, state and federal government agencies, to create a sense of shared mission and responsibility. This work can be foundational for creating a next generation that loves and cares for the outdoors. It can be vital in shaping the future of your states and our country.”
Image: Mount Mitchell State Park, courtesy VisitNC.com