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State takes another step in supporting Pa.'s outdoor recreation industry

A man points at a rack of snowboards as Josh Shapiro watches.
Commonwealth Media Services
Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro, left, is shown snowboards made at Gilson Snow by owner Nick Gilson as Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn looks on.

On March 20, Gov. Josh Shapiro launched the Pennsylvania Outdoor Business Alliance at Gilson Snow in Snyder County.

"Let me just start by saying this may be one of the coolest places I've ever been," the governor said. "The stronger our outdoor recreation economy is, the stronger our main streets are, and the stronger our towns are all across Pennsylvania."

The Growing Outdoor Recreation for Pennsylvania (GORP) roadmap recommended establishing an Outdoor Business Alliance. The alliance will operate like a chamber of commerce. It will help outdoor recreation businesses collaborate, develop a one-stop shop for questions related to permits and regulations, and help Pennsylvania small businesses compete in the national outdoor recreation economy.

Outdoor recreation adds $17 billion annually to Pennsylvania’s economy and supports 164,000 jobs.

"There hasn't been this concerted focus in years past on supporting this sector of the economy," said Nick Gilson, owner of Gilson. "I think that what we're seeing here, now is this real recognition of how important this part of Pennsylvania's GDP really is.”

Gilson's ski and snowboard company focuses on using local materials and features original designs.

Josh Shapiro and Nick Gilson hold a snowboard that reads "Pennsylvania gets it done."
Commonwealth Media Services
Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro, left, who announced the PA Outdoor Business Alliance at Gilson Snow in Selinsgrove, is with owner Nick Gilson.

Cindy Adams Dunn, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said it's not only gear shops or manufacturers like Gilson that will be supported by the business alliance.

"Whether they're ice cream shops serving the campers, whether it's a beer company that really uses an outdoor motif for their brewpub experience, whether it's a creative spirit of the artists that are so involved in outdoor recreation, the builders, the manufacturers, the providers, the outfitters," she continues... "it's big and we're gonna find them all and understand what they really need. So this is an important next step."

Pennsylvania’s Director of Outdoor Recreation Nathan Reigner said during the announcement the state needs the input of the businesses to serve, grow and support the industry.

Outdoor recreation is one of the rare topics that resonates with and connects people, Gilson said.

“These are things that bring human beings back together," he said. "For us, at Gilson, being a platform to begin this discussion on a, on a greater stage, it's something that we're just deeply honored to be a part of."

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Kat Bolus | WVIA News