Speakers tout benefits of outdoor rec

Outdoor recreation is a key to economic rejuvenation on the Western Slope and already is transforming some communities, several speakers said Thursday at an industry symposium.

More than 50 people gathered at the Springhill Suites in downtown Grand Junction to gauge the progress and potential of the multi-pronged industry.

While the Denver metro area remains a popular target for businesses and individuals, the Western Slope has both the business acumen and outdoor amenities that many are hoping to find, said Kristi Pollard, executive director of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership.

“We truly are the Colorado you were promised,” Pollard said.

To be sure, many businesses considering Colorado are well along in the process when they contact the Office of Economic Development and International Trade for contacts and help to move to the Interstate 25 corridor, said Stephanie Copeland, who heads the office.

It’s difficult at that point to send prospects to other parts of the state, but the office can help retrain displaced employees and aid companies that are growing organically in other areas, Copeland said.

The Western Slope outdoor recreation industry is prospering in part because it has forged partnerships with industries such as oil and gas, said Susan Alvillar, manager of community relations at Terra Energy Partners LLC.

Many of the people who work in the industry also enjoy outdoor recreation, so support of projects such as the Palisade Plunge is natural, Alvillar said. The Palisade Plunge is a proposed mountain bike trail dropping 6,000 feet down Grand Mesa from Powderhorn to Palisade.

The possibilities for connecting with the outdoor recreation industry run deeper, though, Alvillar said.

“You use welders, so do we,” she said. “You use engineers, so do we. So why not have a partnership?”

Outdoor recreation already is changing Montose, said Craig Baker, vice president of business development for Mayfly Outdoors. Mayfly is a holding company that purchased Montrose-based Ross Reels and two other fly-reel companies and headquartered the organization at the base of the San Juan Mountains along the Uncompahgre River.

It wasn’t happenstance that Mayfly stayed in Montrose, Baker said.

“As a city, Montrose decided they needed to grow,” Baker said. “They believe in our vision.”


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