November 30, 2016 – Business Xpansion Journal highlights Grand Junction in the Nov/Dec issue as part of a feature story on the importance of outdoor recreation to our national economy. This comes right on the heels of a U.S. Senate decision to approve a bill that will include the economic impact of the outdoor recreation industry in the federal government’s annual measurement of gross domestic product. The bill is now headed to the desk of President Obama, who is expected to sign off before year-end.
Business Xpansion Journal pulled information from a recent report by the Outdoor Industry Association measuring the economic impact of outdoor recreation on the U.S. economy. BXJ also interviewed Tim Fry, President of MRP Bike and GJEP Board Vice-Chair, for the story. Here are the highlights:
“According to a 2012 report by the Boulder, Colorado-based, Outdoor Industry Association, on ten outdoor activities – bicycling, camping, fishing, hunting, motorcycling, off-roading, snow sports, trail sports, water sports and wildlife viewing – outdoor recreation accounts for 6.1 million jobs in this country. To put that in perspective, that is more jobs than education, more jobs than transportation and warehousing, and more jobs than construction….
One example that demonstrates the veracity of the report’s “must have” finding is the impact of outdoor and recreation amenities in the city of Grand Junction, Colorado, located at the junction of the Colorado River and the Gunnison River on Colorado’s western slope.
The whole state is an economic powerhouse of outdoor activities that help support industry or becomes the solid growth industry in its own right. Colorado has miles of trails, national parks, family attractions and conserved landscapes across nearly 67 million acres. The state has 30 million acres of public lands, or approximately 45 percent of the total state land area, providing many recreation opportunities.
Look at Grand Junction. According to Tim Fry, vice chair of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership Board of Directors, the area has been focused on the production of oil and gas for years. But that industry experiences unpredictable ups and downs, and the community really suffers, he says.
‘So from a standpoint of what can we do to attract businesses that don’t fluctuate as much, and are really looking for the lifestyle where they work as a benefit, that’s where these outdoor resources come in,’he says. ‘This valley is going to be involved in those other industries for many years to come, and we have to focus on that,’he says. ‘But we shouldn’t be putting all of our eggs in one basket. We have these natural resources and these recreational opportunities, and we need to continue leveraging them to drive the economy not only for tourism but for local economic development.’
Among the many natural attractions in the area is the Grand Mesa, the largest flat top mountain in the world, stretching 40 miles east of Grand Junction between the Colorado and Gunnison rivers, and reaching a maximum elevation of 11,000 feet. ‘I hired a guy for my sales team,’ Fry says. ‘And he went to college on a Nordic ski scholarship. The first time he went up on the Grand Mesa, he said, “Oh my gosh. I have Nordic skied all over the world and these are some of the best trails I have ever been on.” I guess we take it for granted a little bit, how neat it is to have those opportunities.’
There are a number of recreational activities at the Grand Mesa National Forest, including skiing and camping. Visitors may also enjoy horseback riding or backpacking depending on their preference. There is boating on any one of the 300 lakes in the park, along with fishing for a number of different trout species, including golden lake, rainbow and cutthroat trout. Snowmobiling and mountain biking are also popular pursuits.
The 60-mile roundtrip Colorado Riverfront Trail System along the river in Grand Junction has five distinct sections, including the blue heron and Audubon section, the monument view section, the parks and wildlife sections, the palisade section, and the riverside Las Colonias section. This diverse environment is home to more than 200 different species of birds, three endangered species of fish and other small animals.
The trail system provides many recreational opportunities to walkers, bikers, skaters, joggers and fisherman in the city. ‘My office is in central Grand Junction and even from here, I can be on a trail in about six minutes by car,’Fry says…”
Got an outdoor recreation business that you’d like to locate to Colorado’s Grand Valley? Learn more about our industry cluster here.
And, if you’re interested in learning more about the outdoor recreation bill, check out this article by The Denver Post.