The Outdoor Gear Builders and many other project partners have worked hard to expand the region’s outdoor industry for the last 5+ years. During this time, we have seen marked progress and economic outcomes from new companies forming, to building expansion facilities, to increased export activities, to collaborative product development efforts. While access to capital, technical assistance, and other specialized resources are essential, none of it would be possible without an effective cluster organization like the Outdoor Gear Builders helping the industry connect, share information, collaborate, and build trust around shared objectives. This work will continue, and broaden, through the Growing Outdoors project through programs like:

Expanding the Outdoor Gear Builders of WNC to connect the WNC Outdoor Industry Value Chain

To date the Outdoor Gear Builders network has primarily been made up of outdoor equipment manufacturers. Through Growing Outdoors, the OGB will substantially broaden its engagement to include: i) Supply Chain Businesses: OGB will create a new supply chain partner level to better engage and serve the region’s component manufacturers, logistics companies, specialized marketing firms, and other supply chain providers.  ii) Outdoor Recreation Partners: OGB will establish a new member tier to better connect with outdoor retailers, outfitters, outdoor-focused tourism entities, summer camps, and other related businesses.

Connecting Existing Manufacturers with Outdoor Industry Opportunities

OGB will work closely with project partners and communities across WNC to understand the breadth and nature of the outdoor industry supply chain across WNC, and then connect rural supply chain partners to outdoor industry markets and opportunities both within WNC and outside of it via tradeshows and marketing activities. This will directly support adding supply chain partners to the OGB cluster network, the “Build It. Test It. Live It. campaign, and the supply chain track of the annual summit.

Annual Outdoor Industry Summit & Regional Working Groups

A central feature of the project will be a new one-day annual outdoor industry summit. The summit will bring together companies and value chain partners from across WNC (and beyond) every fall to showcase innovations, share expert advice and trends, strategically engage national companies with an interest in investing in WNC, and connect the larger outdoor industry and its various stakeholders. Four key topics will be selected each year, and led by a multi-sector working group to study the topic, compile initial findings, and develop an action-oriented agenda for the topic’s track at the annual summit.

Engage Leaders from Other Appalachian States to Develop Multi-State Strategies

The project team and partners will engage and work closely with leaders from other Appalachian states to collectively learn, plan, and develop multi-state strategies for Appalachian outdoor industry economic development.

Want to know more?

We’ve got you covered. The project was officially announced on October 11, 2018. Many more details on the project’s resources and programs will be released over the next few months. Sign up for the email newsletter below to stay posted on the latest developments and opportunities.

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