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9 in region receive Outdoor Recreation Industry Impact Fund grants

DENVER — Entities in the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado make up more than a third of the 24 recipients of state Outdoor Recreation Industry Impact Fund grants. The winners were announced Thursday by the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, part of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.

The grants are intended to help businesses and nonprofits related to outdoor recreation hire and retain more than 100 full- and part-time employees.

Recipients of the grants that are based in Boulder County include the American Mountain Guides Association, Avid4 Adventure, Longmont Bicycle Co., Newton Running, Seismic Skate Systems, The Women’s Wilderness Institute and the YMCA of Northern Colorado. Avid4, Longmont Bicycle and the YMCA received $100,000 grants, while the AMGA got $97,684, Women’s Wilderness got $96,250, Seismic Skate got $50,000, and Newton Running got $40,000.

In addition, the Poudre Learning Center Foundation in Greeley received a $100,000 grant, and the YMCA of the Rockies Estes Park Center received $99,899.

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

About 58% of the two dozen grants announced Thursday went to 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,” said Conor Hall, OREC’s director. “We’re thrilled to assist employers as they continue their efforts to steward our natural resources while also creating career opportunities in the outdoors.

According to data released last fall by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, 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 received consistent feedback that outdoor-recreation employers are balancing the need to retain and hire staff with rising costs of living and housing.

The Outdoor Recreation Industry Impact Fund was made possible by State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, part of the American Rescue Plan Act. 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 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: BizWest