Outdoors Means Business - Lee Hart With Confluence to Speak at Chamber Luncheon
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Lee Hart - Confluence
Lee Hart is an award-winning destination marketer and public relations professional who has focused her efforts within the outdoor, ski, bike and adventure travel industries. In 2016, Hart founded Confluence, an effort to rally Alaska's outdoor industry stakeholders to join together to raise awareness of the power and untapped potential of the multi-billion dollar outdoor recreation industry to contribute to the physical well-being of residents and economic vitality for the future.
Outdoor recreation is such an integral part of everyday life in Alaska that we sometimes take its cumulative influence on the economy for granted. We'll share statistics and efforts underway progress that will leave you with a greater appreciation for this multi-billion dollar economic sector and its interconnectedness to gateway communities like Sitka.
Grilled Salmon, Creamy Polenta, Roasted Vegetables, Salad Bar
Sitka Rendezvous Will Explore Outdoor Recreation Industry Economid Effects
Sitka outdoor recreation industry businesses, supporting organizations, public land managers and civic leaders are invited to a meeting next month aimed at sharing thoughts on the effects of the outdoor recreation economic sector and exploring opportunities for working together to strengthen the local economy.
The Sitka Confluence Rendezvous, second in a series of community-based outdoor recreation economic sector meetings taking place around the state, will start at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 27, at Baronof Island Brewing in Sitka. The meeting is free and open to the public. It falls on one of the brewery’s community nights, so proceeds from any beer sales will benefit Sitka Trail Works.
Confluence founder Lee Hart explained the Rendezvous meeting series is a chance to raise awareness about outdoor recreation economic outcomes. More importantly, the goal is to understand the unique industry challenges and opportunities facing outdoor recreation industry stakeholders and hopefully discover areas of common ground from coastal communities to interior villages, Southeast to Nome and beyond.
In September of last year, the federal government released the first economic analysis of the outdoor recreation sector and the results amazed even US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. “The numbers . . . are simply phenomenal,” Ross said in an address to Congress. “They show that the outdoor recreation industry generated $412 billion in revenue in 2016, accounting for 2.2 percent of U.S. GDP in 2016. That is a very, very large number. To put this industry in perspective, it is a bigger contributor to GDP than the chemical manufacturing sector at 2.1 percent, and all the nation’s utilities, at 1.5 percent of GDP.”
Hart, a 20-year public relations professional in the outdoor, snow sports, bike and adventure travel industries firmly believes that Alaska’s stunning outdoors can be one of the keys to unlocking greater economic prosperity, rural economic development and healthier communities. She explained Rendezvous meetings will explore the economic development issues unique to each of the state’s many gateway communities that attract visitors, as well as provide business opportunities, and close-to-home adventures for residents.
Since Confluence launched in 2016, Hart points to progress in gathering the data necessary to better quantify the state’s outdoor recreation economy and opportunities. As proof she points to some key studies and activities.
• Eight community-based trails organizations, including Sitka Trail Works, pooled resources to work on developing an assessment and case study of the economic benefits of trails. The report is expected to be completed later this spring.
• The University of Alaska’s Business Enterprise Institute released a study of Alaska’s outdoor products manufacturers at last year’s Confluence conference and is finalizing a report on the broader industry as part of its Emerging Sector series. Hart said she expects the emerging sectors report may be released later next month.
• Other community Rendezvous meetings are being scheduled around the state and plans are in the works for the second annual fly-in for outdoor recreation which is set for March 5 - 7 in Juneau.
The outdoor recreation industry includes everything from outdoor equipment and clothing manufacturers, to ski resorts and nordic teams, grass roots trails groups, snow machine clubs, allied non-profits, outfitters, lodges and transportation services that access fishing, hunting, climbing, paddling and other backcountry adventures.
Visit the website, ConfluenceAK for more information about Confluence, the Rendezvous meeting calendar, and access resources and presentations from speakers at past Confluence annual conferences.