Learnings from Second Outside Business Summit Deemed Impactful – by Jan Wondra


The Colorado Outdoor Industry Summit is now in the history books and has been called a resounding success. Sustainable processes and resources were shared through entrepreneurial innovators and industry leaders to an audience of 172 registered participants from our state’s rural areas.

“This year’s Summit was impressive, providing tools and resources for small business development and social entrepreneurship to show a way forward by harnessing the entrepreneurial energy to begin solving the community challenges facing our Society stands,” says Outdoor Industry Summit creator Jamie Billesbach.

Real-world examples of Colorado social entrepreneurs included mountainFlow, TripOutside, Callosum, and Clif Bar & Company.

Further support for small businesses was a nationwide funding panel that showcased examples of outdoor industry companies that have funded them. The panel shared how others can receive funding. The housing crisis for the outdoor industry took center stage and a staff housing panel discussed what they are doing to address this industry-wide challenge.

Innovation, which focuses on sustainability best practices, was a well-attended segment presented by Elevation Outdoors Editor-in-Chief Doug Schnitzspahn, Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office Director Conor Hall, Greater Arkansas River Nature Association Director Dominique Naccarato, and Cindy Williams shared the Chaffee County Outdoor Recreation Management Plan and the Chaffee County Visitors Bureau’s Adventure by Nature educational video series.

The industry-wide movement toward diversity, equity and inclusion opportunities and challenges was a key conference theme addressed by keynote speaker Earnest House, Jr. House, Senior Policy Director and Director, Center for Tribal and Indigenous Engagement for Keystone Policy Center.

He was joined by Colorado Parks & Wildlife Commissioner Taishya Adams, a passionate and dedicated service leader who focuses on liberation through connection, personal transformation, and collective responsibility.

Education leaders from Colorado Mountain College, University of Colorado Boulder, The Wright Collegiate Challenge and Wild Rhythms explored the many opportunities for outdoor education and sustainable tourism in the outdoor industry.

The day was filled with shared experiences of purposeful travel. This included examples of what works and is having an impact (as opposed to less successful attempts that became learning experiences). The extended breaks and outdoor exhibit hall enabled interactive collaboration and connections with speakers, attendees and industry leaders.

Readers can download the online virtual program full of evergreen resources and links related to this spectacular summit.

The summit was sponsored by:

High Country Bank, Chaffee County Visitors Bureau, Colorado Small Business Development Center, Office of Economic Development and International Trade, JVAM, a mountain law firm, Colorado Housing and Treasury Department, Startup Colorado, The Wright, My Lovely Spaces, Leadville Twin Lakes , The Lobby Salida and One More Day.

See https://centralsbdc.org/home/events-outdoor-industry-summit/ for more details. At the OUTdoor INdustry Summit, it was announced that the Fall 2023 Summit will be held at the Leadville CMC campus