Colorado launches new outdoor recreation industry office

‘I want to hear what people in small communities are doing and carry those stories to the highest level …’

FRISCO — Colorado’s outdoor recreation industry — from skiing and snowmobiling, to birdwatching and hunting — has become a powerful economic force in the last few decades.

By some accounts, the industry generates as much as $13 billion per year in consumer spending and drives the economy of many communities outside the urban Front Range corridor. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, the industry contributes $4.2 billion in wages and salaries in Colorado.

Now, Gov. John Hickenlooper says he wants to boost the industry’s role to an even higher profile by establishing a new Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, housed in the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. Last week, Hickenlooper announced that Eagle County resident Luis Guillermo Benitez will head the new office’s efforts build the state’s outdoor recreation brand.

“Luis Benitez is the epitome of an outdoor recreation industry professional: a world class mountaineer and guide, educator, leader and community advocate. We couldn’t have found a better-suited person to represent our state’s Outdoor Recreation Industry,” Hickenlooper said in a prepared statement.

Benitez, a former Vail Resorts executive and Outward Bound leader, said his first order of business will be to get feedback around the state.

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