Boosting Colorado’s Outdoor Rec Workforce: OREC Announces Grant Recipients of Outdoor Recreation Industry Impact Fund

Today, the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office (OREC) of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) announced 24 recipients of the Outdoor Recreation Industry Impact Fund (ORIIF). These grants are intended to help outdoor recreation industry businesses and nonprofits hire and retain over 100 full-time and part-time positions.

“When the outdoor recreation industry thrives, Coloradans across the state benefit from quality jobs and an unparalleled quality of life. These grants will help outdoor recreation employers retain and hire the talented staff that power this important sector of Colorado’s economy,” said Eve Lieberman, OEDIT Executive Director. 

The grants announced today will be distributed in 15 Colorado counties, including San Juan, Routt and Weld counties. Among the recipients are outdoor recreation manufacturers, guide services, youth camps and outdoor learning centers, and a Gunnison County organization dedicated to fostering local food security. Approximately 58% of the recipients are businesses and 45% of the recipients are located in rural communities.

“Building strong relationships across the state has enabled OREC to direct these funds toward one of the outdoor recreation industry’s greatest needs: retaining and hiring new positions. We’re thrilled to assist employers as they continue their efforts to steward our natural resources while also creating career opportunities in the outdoors,” said OREC Director, Conor Hall.

According to data released last fall by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), outdoor recreation accounted for 2.7% of Colorado’s economy and 4.3% of the state’s employment, or 125,244 jobs, in 2021. That represents an increase in employment of 13.4% over 2020. Through a Statewide Listening Tour, OREC staff have received consistent feedback that outdoor recreation employers are balancing the need to retain and hire staff with rising costs of living and housing. Recipients of the Colorado State Outdoor Recreation Grant have also demonstrated a consistent need for assistance with workforce development costs.

The 24 ORIIF grant recipients are:

  • American Mountain Guides Association, Boulder County, $97,664
  • Arkansas Valley Adventures, Summit County, $100,000
  • Avid4 Adventure, Boulder County, $100,000
  • Big Agnes, Routt County, $100,000
  • Colorado Mountain Club, Jefferson County, $100,000
  • Fremont Adventure Recreation, Fremont County, $23,200
  • Geyser Technologies, Montrose County, $100,000
  • Go West Camps, El Paso County, $78,000
  • Jet Boat Colorado, Mesa County, $23,000
  • Longmont Bicycle Company, Boulder County, $100,000
  • Meier Skis, Denver County, $100,000
  • Mountain Roots Food Project, Gunnison County, $45,870
  • Newton Running, Boulder County, $40,000
  • Oveja Negra, Chaffee County, $99,350
  • Poudre Learning Center Foundation, Weld County, $100,000
  • QuikrStuff, Mesa County, $100,000
  • Seismic Skate Systems, Boulder County, $50,000
  • Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals, Jefferson County, $32,000
  • The Women's Wilderness Institute, Boulder County, $96,250
  • Western Slope SUP, Delta County, $30,000
  • Yampatika Outdoor Awareness, Routt County, $10,000
  • YMCA of the Rockies, Larimer County, $99,899
  • YMCA of Northern Colorado, Boulder County, $100,000
  • Venture Snowboards, San Juan County, $74,000

The Outdoor Recreation Industry Impact Fund was made possible by State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF), part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). ORIIF grants of up to $100,000 are intended to cover hiring and staff retention for outdoor recreation industry businesses and nonprofits that can demonstrate negative economic impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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