Editorial: Outdoor show brings golden opportunity to Front Range


Longmont Times-Call

Denver has landed the Outdoor Retailer shows, events that beginning next year are expected to attract 85,000 people each year and deliver a $110 million economic impact to the city. Northern Front Range communities should brace, gladly, for that impact.

The SnowSports Industries America Snow Show in January, a summer Outdoor Retailer show in June, and a winter Outdoor Retailer show in November will bring suppliers, retailers and outdoors enthusiasts together. As Outdoor Retailer says, the shows are places “where orders are written, new accounts are found, connections are made, and brands are launched.”

And that’s what makes this such an exciting economic opportunity, dropped on the doorstep of the northern Front Range, already home to outdoor gear and apparel makers, communities prepared for growth, and a backyard playground of wilderness.

Earlier this year, the Outdoor Industry Association reported that Americans spend $887 billion a year on outdoor recreation. Those are Northern Colorado’s “customers,” people who hike, climb, camp, fish, hunt, cycle, bird-watch and everything else that people can do in this state’s great outdoors. What attracts them to Colorado is this state’s dedication to preserving its wild public lands.

That’s also what attracted Outdoor Retailer to Colorado from Utah, which has been a leader in the movement to shift public lands from federal to state control. That concerns outdoors enthusiasts, who are worried that the shift could lead to the protection of those lands being compromised, or to their sale. And that led Patagonia, a big name in outdoor gear to threaten to pull out of the show. Other members of the industry followed Patagonia’s lead.

This gave a boost to Colorado, which already hosted the Snow Show and had been courting Outdoor Retailer for years.

Of course, the move isn’t just about politics and the environment. It’s about money. As noted, outdoors retailing is big business, and that’s where communities along the northern Front Range can benefit.

At the edge of this national spotlight on the outdoors industry, cities such as Loveland and Longmont are positioned for a bigger piece of that huge and growing market. They have the modern infrastructure, the skilled work force and familiarity with the outdoors industry and with that industry’s biggest customers. Starting next year, our communities will have new opportunities to showcase what we can offer to manufacturers, retailers and their customers.

Further, this region’s start-ups as well as its leaders in outdoor gear — from OtterBox, which got its start in the water sports world, to footwear maker Newton Running — will find themselves in a prime position, geographically.

Fate and a lot of work have delivered this opportunity. Our communities political and economic leaders should be ready to capitalize on it.

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