The 4th Annual Outdoor Economy Conference begins April 4-7 at the brand new Cherokee Convention Center in Cherokee, NC in western North Carolina. After two years as a virtual event, the conference celebrates its return to an in-person gathering with over 65 speakers, four distinct agenda items, eight expert-led off-site workshops and field trips, and numerous networking events.
This is the largest gathering of the outdoor industry in the Eastern United States, with past attendees from 33 states and five countries. The last in-person event in 2019 attracted 550 participants and this year’s event is expected to surpass that number with new routes tailored to the needs of professionals in the outdoor industry, conservation, tourism and economic development, a ” Higher Education & the Outdoor Industry Summit,” and a 16,000-square-foot industrial exhibition.
Featuring programs in Cherokee, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Nantahala Gorge and the Fire Mountain Trail System, this year’s event combines compelling keynotes and panel discussions with immersive experiences showcasing western North Carolina’s thriving outdoor economy in action.
“In 2020, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that outdoor recreation generated $9.9 billion in economic impact and over 120,000 direct jobs in North Carolina,” said Noah Wilson, director of sector development at Mountain BizWorks.
“As people look to nature for mental and physical well-being during and after the pandemic, these numbers will only increase. Now is the time to make the most of this global growth in participation and ensure we bring stakeholders together to connect, collaborate and ensure sustainable progress for years to come,” he added.
The 2022 Presenting Sponsor is the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, who will lead the opening and closing ceremonies. Presenting partners include WNC: MADE X MTNS , North Carolina Outdoor Industry Recreation Office , Outdoor Gear Builders of WNC , Mountain BizWorks and Western Carolina University .
“The Cherokee have always had a sacred connection to the land. We are honored to host the Outdoor Economy Conference and to share both our culture and local vision for ecotourism and natural resource stewardship,” said Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed.
Keynote presenters from around the country will host each track of the event. HOLO Footwear founder Rommel Vega is building an inclusive and sustainable outdoor brand for the masses. Scott Bricker, Head of Destination Development at Travel Oregon, leads innovation to support sustainable destination development for local communities. North Carolina Secretary of Natural and Cultural Resources D. Reid Wilson is conducting the largest investment in outdoor recreation in North Carolina state history. Additional keynotes and full program details are available at outdooreconomy.org.
Attendees include outdoor industry companies, conservationists and public land managers, academics and human resource development professionals, nonprofit and government leaders, entrepreneurs and professional service providers. The addition of 16,000 square feet of exhibit space provides the opportunity for direct networking opportunities with businesses, organizations and educational institutions committed to a healthy and sustainable outdoor recreation ecosystem.
Tickets are available at outdooreconomy.org.