2017-08-09 / Front Page

Governor visits Grafton to discuss new outdoor recreation collaborative


Vermont Gov. Phil Scott speaks to participants at the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative (VOREC) Conference on Aug. 2 in Grafton. — TORY DENIS PHOTOVermont Gov. Phil Scott speaks to participants at the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative (VOREC) Conference on Aug. 2 in Grafton. — TORY DENIS PHOTOGRAFTON — Vermont Gov. Phil Scott visited Grafton on Wednesday, Aug. 2 to discuss his executive order created in June to establish the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative (VOREC), a task force to strengthen and expand Vermont’s outdoor recreation economy.

The governor was a guest speaker on the first day of the VOREC Conference, which took place Aug. 2 and 3 at the Grafton Inn. The conference brought together about 50 representatives from state agencies, organizations, foundations, outdoor groups and guide associations, and business owners. Their intent: To help create recommendations and determine measurable outcomes on how to leverage Vermont’s outdoor recreation branding and assets to drive economic development.

“I know this industry is dedicated, persistent, and ready to get to work,” Scott said.

Scott said he is hoping the collaborative will help promote and encourage growth and expansion of outdoor initiatives that will “encourage and incentivize” the state’s recreational assets.

He also said that he often asks three questions: Does it help the economy? Does it help make Vermont more affordable? Or does it help take care of the state’s most vulnerable?

VOREC, he said, will help grow and drive all economic sectors of the state.

The governor’s initiative highlights the decades-long work of land managers, nonprofit recreation and conservation groups, and outdoor recreation businesses to build the industry. In Vermont, outdoor recreation accounts for 34,000 direct jobs and $2.5 billion in consumer spending. The collaborative will focus on “more strategically coordinating and leveraging outdoor recreational resources and networks to expand the recreation economy, supporting economic growth across Vermont,” all according to the governor’s office.

Forests, Parks and Recreation (FPR) Commissioner Michael Snyder, who serves as chair of the 15-member task force, said on Wednesday he is grateful to be on the VOREC team. He also noted that Scott has a strong connection to the outdoors and a passion for cycling, and has helped build state parks and trails.

Several conference participants, including business owners and state agency representatives, voiced support and enthusiasm for the governor’s support of outdoor sports and recreation as an economic driver for the state.

“It’s rare we get a chance to come together on something as transformative as we have,” said Ted Manning, CEO of Ibex and one of the conference attendees, during introductions. Manning, who said he does not settle for mediocrity, added that he wanted the group to “grab the big brass ring” and move forward with the recreation collaborative.

The immediate focus of VOREC will be to develop a strategy and specific action plan with measurable outcomes, including recommendations to contribute to efforts to market Vermont’s outdoor recreation attributes for economic growth, according to a recent press release.

Other recommendations include to examine and promote laws, policies and initiatives that encourage outdoor recreation business; strengthen stewardship of outdoor recreation resources and the organizations that support them; and to encourage, incentivize and guide the development of community-oriented outdoor recreation assets, increasing economic impacts.

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