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North Carolina Heads Outside With New Office of Outdoor Recreation

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The Outdoor Gear Builders of WNC assist in the creation of new statewide outdoor position


Asheville, NC (July 1, 2017) – For North Carolina locals, the state’s beautiful beaches, rugged mountains and sparkling lakes have long been a must-visit playground for adventure seekers. As of June 28, 2017, the State is also recognizing the impact of its outdoor recreation thanks in part to efforts from North Carolina’s (NC) first organized outdoor coalition, the Outdoor Gear Builders of Western North Carolina (OGB).

During the 2016 SHIFT conference in Wyoming – an annual gathering working to protect our public lands – OGB Director Noah Wilson and founding OGB member Tom Dempsey met with officials from three Western States – Washington, Utah and Colorado – that had already piloted a state Outdoor Industry Director model. Recognizing its potential impact for outdoor industry and economic development in NC, Wilson, Dempsey, and OGB member Dave Petri worked with a dedicated group of local outdoor brands to help implement a similar program in NC.

“The SHIFT workshop was such an eye opener for us, and I remember leaving that conference with a strong conviction that this was something our state needs,” Wilson reminisces about his time in Wyoming. “It was also something OGB is uniquely suited to support and leverage, so we all got excited about how we could use our awesome natural recreation resources and our network of companies and supporters to grow the industry here in NC.”

The group’s efforts – that also included work from Mountain Khakis, VF Corp, Manning Fulton & Skinner, and Topics Education – paid off, with the North Carolina General Assembly officially creating the position of the Outdoor Recreation Recruitment Director on June 28th. The position will begin January 1st, 2018 as part of the Commerce Department, and will involve promoting economic development in outdoor-based recreation and manufacturing statewide.

“Less than one year ago this seemed like a long-shot dream. Thanks to the vision of our elected leaders and a committed group of outdoor industry pros, we’ve made this happen,” said Dempsey, President of SylvanSport. “I am proud to see North Carolina at the forefront of this effort to recognize and grow the outdoor recreation economy.”

Statistics aided their efforts, with a recent Outdoor Industry Association report stating NC generates $19.2 billion from outdoor recreation and 192,000 jobs. Legislation efforts were led by Senator Rick Gunn of Alamance County, with broad bipartisan support from around the state.

“As a North Carolina based outdoor industry manufacturer and brand, we are excited to see the state recognize the value of our industry. We look forward to working with the new director on growing our powerful economic impact,” said Petri, VP of Marketing at Nester Hosiery.



The Outdoor Gear Builders of WNC is a coalition of Western North Carolina-based outdoor companies collaborating to share talents, encourage new ideas and inspire each other. Our member brands are dedicated to creating exceptional outdoor gear with a focus on responsible manufacturing, cutting edge innovation, and economic growth in our region. Our motto is: “Extraordinary Gear Made Here.” Join the conversation at @outdoorgearbuildersofwnc

Media Contact: Natalie DeRatt (828) 280-1910