Virginia became the 15th state to create an office of outdoor recreation.
The office will be part of the Governor’s Cabinet, under the direction of Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade Cassidy Rasnick and in partnership with Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew Strickler. The office will work with staff from multiple state agencies on issues relating to economic development, talent attraction and retention as well as improving quality of life through the lens of outdoor recreation. The team will hit the ground running with an initiative to recruit outdoor industry manufacturers to locate or expand to the commonwealth.
During an event held at Carvins Cove Natural Reserve on July 18, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced the creation of an Office of Outdoor Recreation to lead efforts to promote the outdoor recreation industry in Virginia and recruit new outdoor businesses to the Commonwealth. The outdoor recreation industry contributes nearly $22 billion annually to the Virginia economy, and employs more than 197,000 Virginians.
Virginia will be the 15th state in the nation to establish an office or task force dedicated to strengthening the outdoor industry, and the third on the East Coast.
“Every region of our Commonwealth is home to unique outdoor assets and recreation opportunities, which continue to earn national praise and are sought out by millions of travelers each year,” said Governor Northam. “In establishing a statewide Office of Outdoor Recreation, we are taking significant steps to recognize the importance of this industry as a true driver of economic development in the Commonwealth, and demonstrate why Virginia is the natural fit for outdoor business. Outdoor recreation not only improves the growth potential of our communities, but it also aligns with our goals on land conservation, workforce development, and public health.”
The Office will lead an effort to grow the outdoor industry in Virginia through industry promotion, coordination, and recruitment. Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade Cassidy Rasnick will serve as director of the Office, which will be staffed by agencies currently working to promote Virginia’s outdoor assets and top-ranked business climate. The Office is spearheading an initiative to recruit manufacturers of outdoor products such as kayaks, bicycles, and gear to locate or expand in the Commonwealth and produce their goods in the state—spurring job creation and private investment, while creating opportunities for outdoor tourism-focused partnerships and on-site demo experiences.
“Outdoor recreation not only contributes to a community’s economy, but also to its sense of place,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “Quality of life is often a key decision point for businesses deciding on their next location, and we want to leverage every asset in Virginia’s value proposition. Our diverse outdoor assets, combined with our ranking as the country’s Top State for Business, make Virginia the perfect place for new and expanding outdoor businesses.”
“We have made great progress to improve air and water quality and protect the special places across the Commonwealth that attract so many lovers of the outdoors,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew J. Strickler. “Governor Northam and I are committed to building upon this progress and I look forward to working closely with the new Office of Outdoor Recreation to promote, restore, and protect Virginia’s natural landscapes and environment.”
More information is available at governor.virginia.gov/outdoor.
The other states with offices include Washington Oregon, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, North Carolina, Maine, New Mexico, Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin.
Click here for more information from the Outdoor Industry Association on state offices of outdoor recreation.