85% of WNC’s outdoor gear manufacturers already sell overseas, and the region is internationally known for its mountain biking and paddle-sports as well as for cultural tourism both around its craft food and beverage scene and its Cherokee heritage. Through this project, we will ensure that the region’s outdoor manufacturers continue to grow their export markets (following in the footsteps of Blue Ridge Chair Works, NC Small Business Exporter of the Year in 2017); that the region’s outdoor heroes and natural assets are world-renowned; and that the region’s rural counties and towns are seen as go-to spots for outdoor industry expansion and re-shoring projects both foreign and domestic. Programs to help achieve these goals will include:

Ensuring a Strong WNC Presence at International Trade Shows

This activity will focus on i) growing export markets for WNC manufacturers; ii) expanding “made in USA” demand pipeline for WNC supply chain firms; and iii) specifically assisting coal-impacted communities in marketing their locations to the outdoor industry. OGB and project partners will proactively coordinate with local and state economic developers, and will help link rural communities with available attendance cost-share resources.

Regional Branding and “Intercept Marketing” Campaign

West Coast cities, regions, and companies currently capture most of the imagery and attention of the outdoor industry. Through this project, OGB will lead a regional branding and marketing effort to help change the prevailing narrative around the region’s people and places, to highlight the region’s outdoor “hero” stories, and to position WNC as the eastern US hub for outdoor industry. An “intercept marketing” campaign will leverage these branding assets to better connect with the 10,000,000+ visitors coming to WNC every year.

Annual “Press Camp” Media Familiarization Event

Furthering the strategy to expand market access and raise awareness of WNC as a preeminent region for outdoor recreation and industry, the Outdoor Gear Builders network will host an annual “Press Camp” event to bring national and international media attention to WNC’s growing outdoor industry.

Annual “Get in Gear Fest” Demo Day

The Outdoor Gear Builders will hold “Get in Gear Fest” demo day events annually, during the project, building on a successful, existing event series. Get in Gear Fest is a one-day event that elevates regional awareness of and pride in locally-made gear.

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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