The Business Side of Outdoor Recreation

There is a growing need to better understand how the origin of dollars being spent here are connected to the natural world and amenities. What is really driving people interested in outdoor recreation to make the decision to come here, for a weekend or a lifetime? What are our strengths, or weaknesses compared to other regions?

As we ponder on how to move forward in creating more outdoor recreation opportunities, we should also ask what economic opportunities will those investments bring? What role does outdoor recreation play in one’s decision to invest in a start-up business, or expand product lines in a current one? Those are just a few of the ‘unknowns’ concerning the multi-million dollar industry called outdoor recreation in Chelan and Douglas Counties.

Some significant movement has been taking place recently in the area of determining the economic impact of outdoor recreation in Chelan and Douglas counties. At the urging of local outdoor recreation organizations and local businesses, the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce has been working with a small group of stakeholders for the past couple of months, discussing ways to better understand the economic impact outdoor recreation has in our region. It was determined that commissioning an in-depth survey on the impact of outdoor recreation would allow us to better understand our local economies connection to our recreational assets and how we can better leverage them to recruit employees, develop industry, and expand access.

Research was conducted, and nearly a dozen firms with experience in such projects were identified. A request for proposal (RFP) was sent to those firms, and some impressive responses were received. Those were rated in order of preference, and will soon be followed up with direct discussions. The goal is for solid data being in-hand before future decisions are made on facilities, infrastructure and business expansion, just to name a few points.

Next steps are underway to identify additional stakeholders and funding partners before the survey is conducted. With this information in hand work can begin on a coordinated plan to implement the findings. This all boils down to getting better educated on an important subject, and that’s always a good thing.