The OIA Capitol Summit gave OIA members the opportunity to meet in person with Congressmen and women, Senators and their staff to share the impact the larger outdoor recreation industry has on local economies. We talked jobs, revenue generation and the high quality of life that our national treasures- parks (national, state and local), rivers, lakes and oceans provide to this country.
The OIA staff was very prepared and highly professional. They provided us with details on funding issues that are coming up and coached each member to share their company’s story- how many people we support and what our businesses and open access to public lands mean to our local economy.
As we shared numbers on the over all economic impact of the industry (FYI- we are larger than housing was in 2007) related to hotel stays, eating out, gas, retail purchases and all the other things that go into a person getting outside, you really could see their eyes and minds open to what our industry truly means as an economic engine.
Our education of elected officials is critical to the industry. Call it lobbying, relationship building or advocacy whatever, it all adds up to driving an agenda to ensure there is adequate funding on a federal level for outdoor recreation. I left feeling very patriotic, where else can a person with zero political connections walk into the seat of the federal government and have a voice?
To sum it up, I learned that in Washington, if you aren’t sitting at the table you are on the menu. I never want National Outdoor Recreation on the menu and I will continue to fight for our rightful seat at the table.
Keith Reis is the Managing Partner of Sanitas Sales Group based in Colorado. Sanitas Sales Group represents high quality brands in the outdoor, ski, bike and outdoor recreation channels of distribution. As a member of OIA, we strive to educate our elected officials on the benefits of recreation to our local economies and quality of life.