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State Office of Outdoor Recreation Seeks Increased Financial Support

Pennsylavnia’s Office of Outdoor Recreation has requested more financial support from lawmakers, coinciding with the Shapiro administration’s weeklong tourism campaign

Director Nathan Reigner emphasized the industry’s $17 billion contribution to Pennsylvania’s GDP in 2022, calling it a critical component of the state’s economic competitiveness strategy.

Reigner presented the office’s mission to unite, grow, and strengthen the commonwealth’s outdoor economy during a joint hearing with two House committees. He advocated for a “whole-of-government” approach to support this goal.

The office, which operates within the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, functions as a coordinating body across various government agencies. Reigner described it as a “phone book” organization, facilitating connections rather than providing direct funding. The office acts as a hub to integrate state government efforts in outdoor-based economic development.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the outdoor economy accounts for 2% of Pennsylvania’s GDP. Key sectors within this industry include retail, manufacturing, and arts and entertainment, which together make up nearly 56% of the outdoor economy.

Reigner stressed the importance of state and federal grants for the growth of the outdoor economy, particularly in rural Pennsylvania. He also highlighted the need for better connections between state agencies and among rural communities and entrepreneurs. He mentioned the intangible benefits of outdoor recreation, such as fostering community ties.

“The neighborly love that comes along with participating in outdoor recreation and being in these places together, I think that’s a real and rare benefit outdoor rec can offer,” Reigner told the Daily Review.

However, Reigner noted that achieving this growth and connection is challenging. Many rural areas lack the necessary staffing and resources to capitalize on available opportunities. He pointed out that the existing government mechanisms often do not favor these communities.

Reigner identified a shortage of grant writers and project managers in smaller communities as a significant barrier. He explained that many rural municipalities and non-profits struggle to meet the requirements for competitive grants, limiting their access to funding.

He cited the Pennsylvania Wilds’ failed application for the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s $1 billion Build Back Better grant as an example. The application was unsuccessful partly because it did not create enough jobs, highlighting a disconnect between federal policy and local needs.

Reigner argued for increased capacity in municipal, county, and regional economic development groups to better utilize existing opportunities. He emphasized the need to align funding policies with the specific needs of Pennsylvania’s rural communities.

By advocating for more financial support and better coordination, Reigner aims to strengthen the outdoor recreation industry in Pennsylvania. This industry has the potential to drive economic growth and enhance community ties across the state.

Reigner concluded with a call to action, urging stakeholders to organize the outdoor industry more effectively. He stressed the importance of a united effort to maximize the economic and social benefits of outdoor recreation in Pennsylvania.

The request for increased financial support reflects the broader strategy of the Shapiro administration to boost tourism and outdoor activities in the state. With better resources and coordination, Pennsylvania’s outdoor recreation industry could see significant growth and development in the coming years.

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Hi, you might find this article from Modern Campground interesting: State Office of Outdoor Recreation Seeks Increased Financial Support! This is the link: https://moderncampground.com/usa/pennsylvania/state-office-of-outdoor-recreation-seeks-increased-financial-support/