As Colorado continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Polis and the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office (OREC) have taken bold steps to ensure the state’s outdoor recreation industry remains a thriving source of good-paying jobs and economic growth.
According to a press release, the officials unveiled a new grant program to support continued pandemic recovery among outdoor recreation industry businesses and nonprofits. The Outdoor Recreation Industry Impact Fund (ORIIF) will provide funding to help outdoor recreation industry employers hire and retain staff across the state.
The newly launched ORIIF will offer critical support for outdoor recreation businesses and nonprofits as they navigate the challenges of the pandemic.
”We are continuing to bring good-paying jobs to Colorado’s robust outdoor recreation industry, boosting our strong economy and making sure Coloradans can find careers they love around our world-class outdoors,” said Governor Polis.
The outdoor recreation industry plays a significant role in Colorado’s economy, contributing 2.7% of the state’s overall economy and providing 125,244 jobs, which is a 13.4% increase over 2020.
This growth has not gone unnoticed, as the state’s Executive Director of the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT), Eve Lieberman, recognizes the importance of directing resources to this industry to continue its momentum.
According to Conor Hall, Director of OREC, the industry has seen consistent interest and growth in recent years, but employers have also been struggling with rising costs of living and housing.
In response, OREC launched its first-ever grant opportunity, the Colorado State Outdoor Recreation Grant (COSORG), in June 2022.
The interest and success of this program, as demonstrated by the ten grant recipients announced in October 2022, highlights the continued need for support in workforce development.
The newly introduced Outdoor Recreation Industry Impact Fund, with $1.8 million in State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF), aims to address these needs and support payroll requirements.
With grants of up to $100,000 available to outdoor recreation businesses and nonprofits negatively impacted by the pandemic, this program will provide a much-needed boost to the industry’s recovery efforts.