Gov.-elect Po­lis makes his first pub­lic ad­dress

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Ju­dith Kohler

One of the speak­ers at an Out­door In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion’s post-elec­tion panel dis­cus­sion Thurs­day was Ex­hibit A of the eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal mus­cle the out­door re­cre­ation in­dus­try has been work­ing to de­velop.

“I want you all to know that to show the im­por­tance of the out­door re­cre­ation in­dus­try, not just to me per­son­ally but to the state, speak­ing with you here to­day is my very first pub­lic ad­dress as gover­nor-elect,” said Demo­cratic Con­gress­man Jared Po­lis, elected Tues­day as Col­orado’s next chief ex­ec­u­tive.

Po­lis was one of 23 can­di­dates na­tion­wide en­dorsed by the Boul­der-based as­so­ci­a­tion, which rep­re­sents more than 1,200 man­u­fac­tur­ers, re­tail­ers, sup­pli­ers, non­prof­its and oth­ers as­so­ci­ated with the out­door re­cre­ation in­dus­try.

Twenty of those on the bi­par­ti­san slate of can­di­dates in the “Vote the Out­doors” cam­paign won, said Alex Boian, po­lit­i­cal di­rec­tor for the Out­door In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion, or OIA. He de­scribed Po­lis as “per­haps this in­dus­try’s longest-term friend.”

“Po­lis has stood by this in­dus­try and re­ally sup­ported us. As he ran for gover­nor over this last year, he pro­duced a vi­sion for Col­orado called ‘Keep Col­orado Wild’ that laid out sup­port for this in­dus­try, sup­port for pro­tect­ing Col­orado’s land and wa­ter and how to re­ally take it to the next level,” Boian said.

The OIA’s panel dis­cus­sion at the Out­door Re­tailer win­ter show at the Col­orado Con­ven­tion Cen­ter in Den­ver fo­cused on ef­forts to en­sure that con­ser­va­tion, pub­lic lands and the eco­nomic con­tri­bu­tions of out­door re­cre­ation are pri­or­i­ties as peo­ple run for of­fice and cast bal­lots. In­dus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives tout­ing out­door re­cre­ation’s eco­nomic heft point to fig­ures re­leased in Septem­ber by the U.S Depart­ment of Com­merce’s Bureau of Eco­nomic Anal­y­sis. They showed the out­doors sec­tor ac­counted for 2.2 per­cent, or $412 bil­lion, of the Gross Do­mes­tic Prod­uct in 2016.

Na­tion­wide, out­door re­cre­ation gen­er­ates $887 bil­lion in spend­ing and sup­ports 7.6 bil­lion di­rect jobs, ac­cord­ing to the OIA. In Col­orado, ski­ing, fish­ing, hunt­ing, hik­ing and other ac­tiv­i­ties pro­duce $28 bil­lion in spend­ing and sup­port 229,000 di­rect jobs.

A re­cent re­port by Col­orado Parks and Wildlife found that out­door re­cre­ation con­trib­utes even more to the state’s econ­omy — $62.5 bil­lion. State

of­fi­cials said the re­port pre­pared by South­wick As­so­ciates dif­fers from OIA fig­ures be­cause it in­cludes more ac­tiv­i­ties, like use of ur­ban hik­ing and bik­ing trails, and builds on previ- ous sur­veys as part of Col­orado’s Statewide Com­pre­hen­sive Out­door Re­cre­ation Plan.

Po­lis said one of the first com­pre­hen­sive pol­icy po­si­tions his gu­ber­na­to­rial cam­paign re­leased was “Keep Col­orado Wild,” which pro­motes ex­pand­ing the out­door re­cre­ation and tourism economies as well as pro­tect­ing pub­lic lands, wildlife and wa­ter. He said the mes­sage struck a chord with vot­ers across the state be­cause they un­der­stand that pub­lic lands and en­joy­ing the out­doors are a crit­i­cal part of Col­orado’s way of life.

“They’re also a crit­i­cal part of our econ­omy and pros­per­ity and growth as a state,” Po­lis added.

Peo­ple don’t have to look far to see what hap­pens when the im­por­tance of pub­lic lands and the out­doors to the West­ern life­style and econ­omy are ig­nored, Po­lis said. The Out­door Re­tailer trade shows moved last year to Den­ver af­ter 21 yeas in Salt Lake City, cit­ing Utah politi­cians’ stances on pub­lic lands and sup­port for the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s down­siz­ing of Bears Ears and Grand Stair­case-Es­calante na­tional mon­u­ments. Both mon­u­ments are in Utah.

Slash­ing the 1.35-mil­lon-acre Bears Ears by 85 per­cent gal­va­nized the OIA and busi­nesses across the in­dus­try to par­tic­i­pate in the Vote the Out­doors cam­paign, Boian said. The as­so­ci­a­tion’s an­a­lyt­ics showed that 12.2 mil­lion peo­ple were reached via so­cial me­dia plat­forms lead­ing up to the midterm elec­tion. Some of the larger out­door re­tail­ers in­cor­po­rated and shared the mes­sages and videos na­tion­ally, Boian said.

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