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 Woolrich's Nick Brayton:
As the story goes, in the early 1830s when John Rich was selling wool by mule cart to Pennsylvania lumbermen, Frank Hugelmeyer of the Outdoor Industry Association was standing at a nearby podium reminding everybody how the scene was a perfect example of the outdoor industry’s job creation abilities.
Fortunately, some things never change. Woolrich is still creating rugged outdoor gear, and the Outdoor Industry Association is still working diligently to connect the dots between a vibrant outdoor culture and a vibrant American economy.
The OIA Capitol Summit (April 17-18, 2012) brings the outdoor-economy message back to Washington, D.C. Woolrich is proud to return as a Capitol Summit sponsor, as building broad support for the outdoor experience is essential for building healthy and active communities around the country, and for creating American jobs as well.
In Pennsylvania, the outdoor experience has been a part of the fabric of life since well before John Rich founded our company in the 1830s. The state is home to 229 miles of the Appalachian Trail, the growing Great Eastern Trail and the Mid-State Trail — a scenic spur which takes hikers into to the town of Woolrich, within a few hundred yards of the oldest continually running mill in America. The state is overflowing with blue-ribbon fisheries and world-class hunting terrain, and its legendary autumn foliage season brings hundreds of thousands of outdoor enthusiasts through our 17 million acres of forests.
The ability of destinations — in Pennsylvania as well as in the rest of the country — to inspire people to get outside early and often is the cornerstone of everything we do in the outdoor industry. It’s what drives people to buy a warm Woolrich jacket, but it’s also essential to the local diners and hotels, shops and guides, and the many specialty retailers that provide the backbone for our industry.
According to OIA, the outdoor experience directly supports the jobs of more than 6.5 million Americans, and drives a sizable portion of our national economy: an estimated $88 billion in combined state and national tax revenues.
In both rural and urban areas, the economic support from outdoor activities provides a critical ingredient for balanced communities. As a whole, the business of the outdoors drives as much as $289 billion in retail sales and services, fueling good-paying, stable and healthy jobs.
Simply put, there’s a direct link between the outdoor experience and the American economy, and reinforcing that message is an important goal for both the OIA and every outdoor industry company.
During this week’s OIA Capitol Summit, the two-day gathering will draw dozens of industry leaders into the halls of Congress. Part of the goal is increasing familiarity and awareness with our elected officials, but part of it is also making some specific requests — such as full funding for National Parks and Monuments, a driver of 400,000 jobs as well as significant regional economic impact.
Yet as obvious and necessary as these things may seem to us, they’re hardly a sure thing. It’s easy to assume that the basic building blocks of parks and trails will remain in place for generations of outdoor enthusiasts, but it’s also easy to imagine that some of the funding will be denied as part of widespread federal budget cuts.
Fortunately, thanks to the strong efforts of OIA, the outdoor industry is being brought together in a way that strengthens our voice and spotlights our message. Their efforts to inform, empower and utilize OIA members through events like the Capitol Summit are essential to our collective success.