Conference Shines Spotlight on Economic Potential of Outdoors

Anchorage, AK - Elected officials, businesses and leading environmental non-profits are expected attendees at an upcoming one-day conference dedicated to taking a closer look at the wide-ranging economic benefits of Alaska’s great outdoor.

Confluence: Summit on the Outdoors is scheduled to be held Friday, June 3 on the campus of Alaska Pacific University. The event is hosted by Valdez-based non-profit Levitation 49 and supported by the Outdoor Industry Association, Recreational Equipment Inc., adidas Outdoors, The North Face, Agnew Beck Consulting and Denali Brewing.

L49 Executive Director Lee Hart said the inspiration for the summit is two-fold. An 17-year veteran of the outdoor, snow sports, bike and adventure travel industries, Hart believes in the benefits of the outdoor industry to economic diversification and rural economic development.

Numbers from a 2013 market research study conducted by the Outdoor Industry Association bear out Hart’s assertions. In Alaska alone, outdoor recreation contributes $9.5 billion in consumer spending, 91,600 direct jobs, $2.6 billion in wages and salaries and $711 million in state and local tax revenue.

An early supporter of the Summit is Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins. While collaborating with fellow legislators to resolve the state’s fiscal crisis, Kreiss-Tomkins contemplates sustainable solutions to grow local and state economies and make Alaska more resilient to fluctuations to the price of oil.  An avid runner and kayaker, the Sitka-born legislator believes the outdoors and outdoor recreation have epic potential to grow and make Alaska’s economy more sustainable.

Another leading proponent of the Summit is former Gov. Tony Knowles. The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail named in his honor is a perfect case in point illustrating the benefit of investing in outdoor recreation. Now considered a jewel of Anchorage the trail is a wellness benefit to locals as well as attracting visitors. “As a longtime supporter of trails and public lands, the data is clear,” Knowles said. “Communities benefit economically, socially, and physically from the outdoor recreation and the many businesses that directly and indirectly benefit from their relationship with Alaska’s outdoors.”

Hart said the goal of Confluence is to finish the day with actionable outcomes and next steps. Elected officials, businesses and non-profits interested in attending can find further conference details and online registration on the L49 website.

ABOUT LEVITATION 49

Levitation 49 is a non-profit sports commission dedicated to economic diversification through events and projects that enhance the mountain sports lifestyle in Valdez, AK. To that end, L49 hosts the Valdez Ice Climbing Fest, Chugach Fat Bike Bash, Valdez Rock Climbing Fest and Confluence: Summit on the Outdoors.