Archived Outdoors

Outdoor Economy Conference draws hundreds to Cherokee

N.C. Outdoor Recreation Industry Office Director Amy Allison addresses conference attendees. Steven Reinhold photo N.C. Outdoor Recreation Industry Office Director Amy Allison addresses conference attendees. Steven Reinhold photo

More than 600 people from across the region, nation and Canada representing every facet of the outdoor industry converged on Cherokee last week for the fourth annual Outdoor Economy Conference. 

The four-day conference was held at the new Cherokee Convention Center, featuring more than 70 speakers, four keynote addresses and 16 breakout sessions. Gear builders, conservation leaders, federal agencies, local officials, economic developers, land managers and more were all present to connect with others in the industry, discuss the challenges facing it, and work toward continued and sustainable growth of the outdoor economy. 

The first Outdoor Economy Conference was a single-day event organized by Western Carolina University in 2016. Since then, it’s grown into an annual event drawing hundreds of people from across the country and even the world to focus on the intersection of the outdoors and the economy. The conference is now a project of Mountain BizWorks. 

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