Embrace the Outdoor Business | News, sports, jobs

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Orlando Rodriguez had no idea four years ago that getting into outdoor recreational equipment rentals and guided tours would become a full-time adventure and food truck business.

“In 2019, we tested the waters and now we’ve seen it swell into a full-time endeavor.” Rodriguez said at a meeting of stakeholders at Licking College on Wednesday, where he was listening to the new director of the state’s office of outdoor recreation.

Today, Rodriguez has a thriving retail store in Muncy that sells gear, new and used, including Gilson Snow snowboards, and during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, he decided to improvise with his Rich Port Café food cart.

Participants in the stakeholder meeting were given an opportunity to sample Puerto Rican-inspired dishes from the Rich Port Adventure Co. and Café.

A member of the Pennsylvania Wilds Cooperative, the Puerto Rican native, who spent some of his formidable years growing up in Idaho, started a small, diversified business offering equipment rentals, transportation services, and guided tours.

Through his connection with Jason Fink, President and CEO of the Williamsport Leasing Chamber of Commerce and the staff there, he was given connections to make the business grow.

For Abbie Peters, who represents the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, the center also has the benefits of helping small businesses in places like Benezette, Elk County, where an estimated 500,000 visitors a year see herds of elk in full rut, and state parks like Cherry Springs in Potter County Where one can experience the darkest sky and the Milky Way in all its evening glory.

Outdoor recreation enthusiasts are taking advantage of digital technology and platforms breaking the news in places like Facebook, Twitter, and more.

Dave Hertwig, of New Trail Brewing Co., Williamsport, said the company was the fastest-growing brewery in the United States last year. This was met with applause in the room at the college’s Krapf Gateway Centre. We love the outdoors and we love beer. Recalls the Hertwig company logo. “We encourage our friends and neighbors to spend more quality time outdoors experiencing the natural environment around us,” The company’s website states.

New Trail Brewing connects with a wide range of individuals and organizations in the area dedicated to raising the quality and access to the area’s nearby outdoor resources.

For example, the company has partnered with the State Parks and Forest Foundation on the New Trail State Park Series, a beer named after parks and forests in Pennsylvania, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the selected park or group of friends.

These kinds of conversations have been overdue and have been on the radar screen of the 11-county quasi-government agency based in Lewisburg for a while, said a panel spokesperson at the stakeholder meeting, Kim Wheeler, executive director of the SEDA Council of Governments.

She noted that the development of assets can be leveraged for economic vitality and quality of life, because outdoor recreation provides reasons for people to stay, to expand their businesses, and to increase urban tourism.

When individuals and families choose where they want to live and connect, or when they make corporate and industry decisions, outdoor recreation is among the top three reasons for choosing a community and home. It is on par with area market access, energy cost, and corporate taxes as reasons for people wanting to live in or move to a specific area in Pennsylvania.

“It’s a major economic driver,” Fink said of outdoor recreation. He added that he was glad to see some unfamiliar faces at the meeting as an indication that the meeting was drawing people from a wide area of ​​the state.

There is a kinship between outdoor recreation and the arts and humanities as they can be consumed together to create a better quality of life for the participants.

Besides dollars and cents for outdoor recreation, in 2024 it added $14 billion to the state’s economy, or one-sixth of the economy. It is the sixth largest economy in the United States and provides 152,000 jobs.

Stakeholder meetings have been held in Philadelphia, Easton, York and Warren and will be in Scranton, Erie, Pittsburgh and Johnstown.

The Recreation Engagement Coalition, a brainchild of 50 statewide leaders who helped develop draft strategies and goals to guide how the state should support the external economy, was formed last fall.

Despite its strength and diversity, the country’s foreign industry remained underdeveloped, uncoordinated, and was largely invisible as an economic sector.

With the support of Governor Josh Shapiro, the office is focused on helping organize the outdoor workforce, and connecting outdoor recreation to quality of life and experience in the state for residents and visitors.

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