2021 Stewards of Opportunity Conference Track:

Outdoor-Driven Economic Development

About the Outdoor-Driven Economic Development Track

The outdoors are a powerful economic asset, directly driving over 2% of the US GDP and differentiating outdoor communities from everywhere else. This track will provide case studies, strategies, and tools enabling economic developers, communities, and companies to leverage their outdoor assets to recruit, retain, and grow businesses and a high-quality workforce.

Topics for this Track Include:

  • The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable “Rural Development Toolkit” – Learn how your community can utilize the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable’s “Rural Economic Development Toolkit”, hear about relevant case studies, and help your community to build an outdoor recreation economy of its own.


  • Data and Trends on Why Economic Developers Should be Looking at Outdoor Recreation to Grow Their Local Economies – Since the recession, many rural places have struggled with population loss, job loss, and growing economic distress. This session will focus on Headwaters Economics’ study that finds that recreation may make the difference between gaining or losing population, particularly in rural counties. We also explore how you can utilize data to make informed decisions about how to grow your outdoor economy.


  • Intersection of Outdoor Infrastructure & Economic Development – Trails and greenways have a significant ROI and can be a major driver for economic development. Rails to Trails is the national expert in the planning, development, and evaluation of trails. They will be sharing how you can harness the power of trails in your own community.


  • Innovative Funding Models to Pull Off Big Projects

Speakers for this track include:

  • Chris Perkins, Outdoor Recreation Roundtable

  • Liz Thorstensen, Vice President, Trails Development, Rails to Trails Conservancy

  • Amy Allison, Director, NC Office of Outdoor Recreation

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 few weeks of spring, when the trillium and the trout are rising. So what are you waiting for? Register now! 

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4th Annual Conference Tracks: "Stewards of Opportunity"

Photo: Bren Photography for Camp Grier

Sustainable Outdoor Recreation Tourism

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Outdoor-Driven Economic Development

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Photo: Bear Allison for Cherokee

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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