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Photo by Matt Mittan

500 outdoor industry influencers expected at Outdoor Economy Conference, focused on opportunities around North Carolina’s status as 6th largest outdoor economy in the U.S.

Asheville, N.C. (September 6, 2019): Outdoor recreation is growing nationwide and brings $28 billion in annual economic impact to North Carolina – making the state’s outdoor economy the sixth largest in the country, according to the Outdoor Industry Association.

Harnessing the opportunities around the outdoor industry is the focus of this fall’s Outdoor Economy Conference, returning to Western North Carolina for the second year on Oct. 10 at the Crowne Plaza Resort in Asheville, with an additional half-day workshop on Oct. 11 specifically for rural communities.

Conference participants will engage around the diverse building blocks essential for a thriving outdoor recreation economy, including workforce development (training and retaining a world-class outdoor industry workforce), branding and marketing, supply chains (connecting outdoor industry brands and regional manufacturing partners to drive a new wave of U.S. gear manufacturing in the region), and recreation assets and infrastructure (highlighting and supporting the outdoor places that are the foundation of the region’s outdoor economy). See a conference agenda overview here.

The conference also includes a specialized track on building thriving outdoor communities, designed to help rural areas capitalize on their outdoor assets. This program is for teams of typically three to eight community leaders who are focused on strengthening their communities through outdoor recreation, whether that’s planning a mountain bike park, boosting Main Street businesses with outdoor tourism, activating a recently built greenway, or desiring to retain young families.

 After selling out last year, the conference originally founded by Western Carolina University is doubling in size and scope with the help of the Growing Outdoors Partnership, an initiative of more than a dozen nonprofits, businesses, academic institutions and government agencies working together to expand the outdoor industry and build a thriving outdoor economy across 25 counties in Western North Carolina.

“We are poised to draw more than 500 outdoor industry influencers at this year’s event,” said Growing Outdoors Program Director Noah Wilson, citing a long list of target attendees, including outdoor industry businesses and attractions, outdoor product manufacturers, chamber of commerce executives, workforce and economic development experts, parks and recreation leaders, public land managers, and planners.

In addition, Wilson expects representatives from colleges and universities, agencies such as Appalachian Regional Commission, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, U.S. Economic Development Administration, and the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, and nonprofits such as trail, conservation and environmental organizations.

Tickets for teams as well as individuals are available through the conference website at outdooreconomy.org. Although much of the conference emphasizes the mountains and foothills of Western North Carolina, organizers welcome anyone from any region to attend for knowledge, networking, ideas and insights related to the outdoor industry.

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