2021 Stewards of Opportunity Conference Track:

Balancing Conservation and the Outdoor Economy

About the Balancing Conservation and the Outdoor Economy Track

Western North Carolina has the largest concentration of outdoor companies in the East. Ask our CEOs and industry leaders why they chose WNC to start and grow their business, and you will hear that public lands are a key factor to their success, providing a testing ground for their products and the quality of life and culture their employees desire. To build a stronger outdoor economy, we must protect and promote our most valuable assets, while also ensuring that our communities and their economies see direct benefits from conservation. This track will highlight best practices, case studies, and research that demonstrate how we can balance conservation with economic development.

Topics for This Track include:

  • Business Driven Conservation Projects – This session will focus on the economic imperative for conservation,  how land conservation is critical for long-term access to the outdoors and their economic benefits, and highlight companies who are the driving forces behind transformative projects.

  • Community Development Driven Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Facilities – Communities across the nation are harnessing the power of outdoor recreation to enhance the quality of life for their residents, grow their local economies, and increase tourism. This session will share three unique stories of communities and their partners who have collaborated to meet their goals through conservation and outdoor recreation initiatives, infrastructure, and branding.

  • Coalition Building and Impactful Partnerships – Pulling off big visions requires creative and impactful partnerships. This session will highlight innovative approaches to conservation and outdoor recreation efforts that involve multiple stakeholders who have rallied around a common goal.

  • Funding Streams to Support Community Economic Development and Conservation – There are a lot of opportunities to fund your growing outdoor economy, with more being released this year. This session will breakdown the various local, state, and federal funding streams, and help provide guidance on how your community can access them.

Speakers for this Track Include:

  • Sam Evans, Senior Lawyer & Leader, Southern Environmental Law Center National Forest and Parks Program

  • Ta Enos, Founder & CEO, PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship

  • James Melonas, NC National Forests

  • Jess Wahl Turner, Executive Director, Outdoor Recreation Roundtable

  • Reid Wilson, NC Dept of Natural and Cultural Resources

  • Michelle Wells, NCRPA

  • Nick Scheuer, City of Canton

  • Erin McCombs, American Rivers

  • Jennifer Bennet, Duke Energy

  • Nate Hulabka, NC Pandemic Recovery Office

  • Bill Holman, Conservation Fund

Don't miss Out. Register now.

The past year has been life changing, not just for us as individuals, but for our communities, economies, and the outdoor industry as a whole. The need to grow and strengthen our respective outdoor economies is more relevant than ever. 

Since its inception, Outdoor Economy Conference has provided an invaluable opportunity to connect with, learn from, and be inspired by the leaders and doers who are working to grow the outdoor industry and craft an economy that’s intimately tied to the well-being of their places and communities.

This year’s conference is no exception. Our team is passionate about their work and has been busy crafting an amazing program centered around place driven community and economic development.

Did we mention that the conference is in the legendary outdoor playground that is Western North Carolina? You’ll be just 5 minutes from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 5 minutes from some of the country’s most epic mountain biking, and within walking distance of fantastic fly fishing.

Maybe you’re more of a luxe digs sort of person – well, we’ve got that too. The Outdoor Economy Conference will be one of the first events at the swanky, newly-constructed, Harrah’s Cherokee Event Center. And the room rates are crazy good. Oh, and it’s also during those magical first weeks of spring, when the trillium and the trout are popping. So what are you waiting for? Register now! 

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4th Annual Conference Tracks: "Stewards of Opportunity"

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Sustainable Outdoor Recreation Tourism

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Outdoor-Driven Economic Development

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Balancing Conservation and the Outdoor Economy

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Responsible Outdoor Product Innovation

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harrah's cherokee conference center

777 Casino Dr. Cherokee, NC 28719

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