Colorado's massive mountain ranges and more than 50 fourteeners (mountains taller than 14,000 feet) are more than just pretty postcards. They're money-making economic machines, according to data released Tuesday morning by the Outdoor Industry Association.
Every year, outdoorists who live in and visit Colorado spend $28 billion on outdoor recreation, which generates $2 billion in state and local tax revenue and supports 229,000 outdoor recreation-related jobs.
As a whole, outdoor recreation results in $887 billion in consumer spending across the U.S. OIA released Colorado's numbers Tuesday as a sneak peek of the individual state economy reports it will debut at Outdoor Retailer in July.
Many outdoor gear companies, like Osprey, Smartwool, Topo Designs, Big Agnes, VOORMI, Icelantic Skis, and many others, call Colorado home. And that's no coincidence, according to Smartwool President Travis Campbell.
“OIA’s Outdoor Recreation Economy report reflects what Smartwool and many in our industry have known all along—it makes dollars and ‘sense’ to locate your business where your product is used,” Campbell said in a press release from OIA. “Thanks to its public lands, access to recreation, and an educated, skilled workforce, Colorado is a fantastic location for outdoor industry companies and their employees.”
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper bragged about the state's recreation economy at an industry happy hour at REI during OIA's Capitol Summit in April.
"It's more than the oil and gas business (in Colorado)," Hickenlooper said at the time. "It is an economic powerhouse. I am a great believer in that it comes back to the level of joy that you create, when people are able to have happier lives and in many cases, that affects all the people around them."
Hickenlooper, a close ally of the outdoor industry, has hinted that he's considering running for higher office. In early April, he appeared on NPR's "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!" game show, and didn't deny it when host Peter Sagal implied he might run for president in 2020.