Our Grand Valley

A great example of why Outdoor Retailer shoul call Colorado home

By Sarah Shrader
Outdoor Recreation Coalition

It’s no surprise that Gov. John Hickenlooper dubs the Grand Valley an anchor for Colorado’s outdoor recreation industry — and it’s yet another example of why Outdoor Retailer should move to Denver and make Colorado its new home.

There’s an economic engine in Colorado’s outdoor industry and it’s sustainable, diverse, and ripe for growth. Moreover, we have some serious outdoor industry professionals, from daring recreationists to industry thought leaders and elected officials who recognize our contributions.

The Grand Valley boasts just one example of the initiative and leadership Colorado’s outdoor recreation community offers. In 2015, I helped establish the Outdoor Recreation Coalition of the Grand Valley (ORC) to promote and expand outdoor recreation businesses. Since then, we’ve worked on recreational development along the Colorado River and efforts to increase world-class mountain bike trails, as well as the recruitment of new businesses into the area.

We’ve collaborated with the energy industry in a joint effort to diversify our economy. Within a short time span, the ORC has accrued statewide recognition, growing to more than 400 supporters, including manufacturers Leitner Poma and MRP, retailers, service providers such as Powderhorn Mountain Resort, and outdoor organizations such as the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association, Grand Valley Trails Alliance and Mesa Land Trust. My company, Bonsai Design, is also an active member.

Statewide, a collective commitment to strong values has allowed Colorado to emerge as a leader in the outdoor industry. Around our great state, other outdoor coalitions have been established- in Durango, Colorado Springs, and Denver, to name a few. This recognition of everything our public lands and outdoor recreation industry provide our state is exactly the leadership and culture the outdoor industry needs. And making Colorado the home to Outdoor Retailer would be a win-win for the industry and our local communities.

I have planted myself, my family and my business in Grand Junction, Colorado with dedication to forge a rich life. In 2004, we started Bonsai out of a basement, deploying a small crew in the field to build aerial adventures, from zip lines to challenge courses, all over North America. To date, we’ve installed more than 500 zip lines, some as long as 3,600 feet and tours that last for as long as four hours, drawing tens of thousands of adventure seekers a year. Our company continues to grow, designing and constructing projects across the country, and becoming a leader in creating standards and efficiencies within the industry.

Most of our employees are hired locally, with a talent pool emerging between outdoor enthusiasts, as well as energy and construction workers. We are also proud to work with local fabricators, machinists, and engineers to create innovative adventures for participants.

Bringing Outdoor Retailer to Denver would yield significant benefits to our Grand Valley. Not only would it be recognition of the leadership our ORC demonstrates, but it would also bring new tourists and businesses. People traveling to and from the show could pass right through Grand Junction. And new, sustainable outdoor companies would choose to locate in Colorado, and in the Grand Valley, to be close to the show, which represents the best leaders — from innovators to policy makers — in the outdoor industry.

So, while Outdoor Retailer hunts for a new home, I’d like to pose that Colorado is a natural fit for the show. Although Grand Junction doesn’t have the capacity to host that large of a convention, we can’t wait to host travelers coming through the valley to share our more than 24 million acres of national public lands. Our industry holds public lands dear, our elected officials know this, and we will continue to hold them to a high standard in protecting our wild places. 

From the Western Slope to the Continental Divide, our state awaits opportunity. As I look to the future with optimism and a commitment to our Grand Valley and Colorado’s outdoor recreation community, I say this: Leaders of Outdoor Retailer — Colorado has the public lands and industry leadership you’re looking for. We welcome you with open arms.

Sarah Shrader owns Bonsai Design in Grand Junction.


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