As outdoor industry leaders gather in Washington, D.C. this week to speak with members of Congress, sponsors of the Outdoor Industry Association's Capitol Summit tell SNEWS why policy matters to them. Today, we hear from W.L. Gore & Associates’ Steve Shuster:
The Outdoor Industry Association’s annual Capitol Summit is an opportunity to raise awareness of the industry, speak directly with members of Congress and their staffs about the size and vitality of the outdoor recreation economy and the issues that are important to outdoor enthusiasts. W.L. Gore & Associates joins with other leading brands in sponsoring OIA’s Capitol Summit because of our shared commitment to the values and ethos of these outdoor enthusiasts.
On a personal level, I’ve been impressed by how open and receptive members of Congress and their staff have been to the OIA’s membership and message. I attended my first Capitol Summit four years ago and, frankly, I was a bit intimidated about walking the halls of Congress. My concerns were quickly dispelled and I found both the members and their staffs to be welcoming and interested in OIA’s issues. Among the issues we discussed were ensuring that public lands are properly managed and accessible, and ensuring fair and proper treatment of the industry’s innovative products.
The congressional staff we have met with tend to be young and many — if not most — are outdoor enthusiasts themselves. They are customers of all of our products and understand the health benefits of active outdoor recreation. I believe we have received a fair hearing in all the offices we have visited.
Impacting and changing government policies is a lengthy process but over time and with well researched and thoughtful positions, OIA is having a positive impact. Because of OIA’s trade agenda, tariffs on performance footwear have been lowered and as a result consumers have benefitted form a wider variety of performance footwear at better prices. At the same time, OIA’s member companies have been incented to invest in new innovative technologies designed to enhance the outdoor experience.
OIA also is increasing awareness of the importance of the outdoor recreation economy. The management of public lands managed by the federal government is a vital issue for the industry. OIA has advocated for adequate funding to protect and enhance the quality of these public lands. At the same time we have engaged federal agencies in support of their critical missions in managing these lands.
It has been a gratifying experience to join with others in the industry in advocating for issues that preserve and open the great outdoors to walks of life, promote healthier lifestyles and encourage innovation in an industry that contributes so much to the American economy.
Regards, Steve Shuster
Brand leader with Gore