Vermont’s recreation legacy
Vermont’s bucolic landscape with nestled communities and quality recreation amenities have always made our state a world-class place to live, work, and play. Outdoor recreation has historically been an economic engine in the Green Mountain State, dominated by traditional sports, such as hunting and fishing, and the mainstream pastimes of downhill skiing/riding and hiking.
Diverse opportunities for outdoor recreation continue to grow - from mountain biking to paddle boarding – with rising participation by locals and visitors and expanding high quality recreation infrastructure. Despite the many opportunities to do business in the state, however, many challenges exist for businesses offering services, managing retail stores, or manufacturing products in the outdoor recreation sector.
Public sector effort
In June of 2017, Governor Phil Scott established the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative [VOREC], spurring attention to Vermont’s outdoor recreation. As a public/private partnership, VOREC’s purpose is to “leverage Vermont’s outdoor recreation assets, brand, and culture to sustain, grow, and drive economic development in the outdoor recreation sector and the Vermont economy as a whole.” The Governor endorsed one of VOREC’s recommendations in January of 2018 for a private sector-led initiative to create a not for profit organization to increase and expand the outdoor sector.
Private sector effort
Outdoor recreation businesses held a series of focus groups throughout 2018 and established the Vermont Outdoor Business Alliance (VOBA) as a non-profit organization that would operate independently from state government (and VOREC). A Board of Directors developed a mission and established a structure for how VOBA will be led, coordinated, and organized.
VOBA’s value and impact will come from its ability to bring the outdoor recreation industry together to support each other and to educate Vermonters about outdoor recreation. VOBA can facilitate collaborations between outdoor recreation businesses, state government agencies, and non-profit partners, garnering resources that strengthen Vermont’s recreation legacy. Together, we can strive to position Vermont as an exemplary outdoor recreation state for the future.
What’s next for VOBA?
Over 100 outdoor recreation industry leaders attended the first two VOBA Roundtables to network and share information about outdoor recreation resources and business development opportunities for Vermont’s outdoor recreation economy. VOBA has scheduled Roundtables throughout 2019 across the state to explore ways to support and grow the sector, specifically in the area of financing, workforce development, infrastructure, and sector branding.
VOBA uses the Collective Impact framework as a multi-sector collaborative working to address complex social and economic problems. The five components of Collective Impact include developing a common agenda, establishing backbone support, coordinating mutually reinforcing activities, using shared measurement and continuously communicating ideas and progress.
Survey responses and Roundtable discussions have led to the identification of four priority areas that can strengthen, expand, attract, and retain outdoor recreation economy businesses in Vermont. VOBA work groups have been launched to advance initiatives in financing, workforce development, infrastructure, and sector branding.
To get involved, go to the News and Events page.