Confluence Accords Unveiled at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market

Nationally, the outdoor recreation industry accounts for more jobs and economic impact than the auto or pharmaceutical industry

During the four-day Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, outdoor recreation officers from eight states met on the rooftop of Le Meridien Denver Downtown to sign an agreement dubbed the "Confluence Accords," that outlines best practices to promote public health and wellness, education and workforce training, economic development and conservation.

"Regardless of political ideology, we wanted a way for all the state directors to come together and say it doesn't matter what state you're from and what you do, but for our industry and the national resources that support our industry, for our education and workforce training efforts, for the intersection between public health and wellness and the outdoor economy, there are common, shared best practice principles," says Luis Benitez, head of Colorado's Outdoor Recreation Industry Office.

He told an audience of advocates and industry members at Wednesday's signing that the sector represents more than $887 billion in consumer spending and is responsible for more than 7 million jobs, more than the auto or pharmaceutical industries.

Outdoor recreation leaders Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming helped brainstorm and debut this first-of-its-kind national platform to strengthen and align state-level efforts and priorities.

Kansas, Michigan, Maryland and Arkansas are all observer states working to join the Accords at the next Confluence Summit in January 2019.

Ahead of January's Outdoor Retailer Show – which relocated from Salt Lake City to Denver this year following a heated public lands dispute – Gov. John Hickenlooper and Benitez conceptualized and launched the first in-person delegation, bringing together government, business and nonprofit representatives. The working group reconvened throughout the spring for multiple rounds of discussion, honing elements of a platform that would be relevant to populations in all eight states. Earlier this July, delegates met in Asheville, North Carolina to solidify the goals and language.

"The Confluence Accords are a roadmap for the outdoor recreation industry that recognize it's about so much more than getting people outside," Hickenlooper said. “This collaborative work will serve as a national model and strengthen the collective voice of this industry.”

Nearly 30 Colorado companies are exhibiting for the first time at the Colorado Convention Center this week at the OR Summer Market. The ticketed show for retailers and vendors opened July 23. Along with the event, the Boulder-based Outdoor Industry Association revealed its first congressional scorecard this week.

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