On Monday, May 6th MRAA member John Wooden of River Valley Marine testified in the Minnesota House of Representatives Government Operations Committee in support of HF 2864, a bill that will create a Minnesota Outdoor Recreation Office. Wooden highlighted the economic impact of boating and other forms of recreation in the state, citing a report by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis that found outdoor recreation responsible for 2.2% of the United States Gross Domestic Product, with $16.7 billion in consumer spending and 141,000 jobs generated in Minnesota alone. He also appealed to the impact that a state recreation office could have on the marine industry’s workforce:
“From a business standpoint, and I speak for nearly every outdoor recreational business in the state and across the country, we are experiencing a tremendous shortage of qualified workers to fulfill our growing employment needs. I currently have more than 20 jobs open across my locations, and that’s just a fraction of the outdoor industry’s current open positions. It is my hope that this new office of outdoor recreation will not only shine a light on the powerful economic contributor that is the outdoor recreation industry, but that it will also help demonstrate the importance of the economic considerations for our businesses, such as this shortage of employees and the need to create skilled job training opportunities, within the boating and outdoor economy as a whole”.
State outdoor recreation offices have been a focal point of MRAA’s partnership with a large coalition of other outdoor recreation groups, the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR). MRAA and the ORR view these state offices as an opportunity to expand recreation opportunities, ensure access to public lands, and educate the public on the impact of the outdoor recreation economy as a whole. These efforts are being pursued in many other states, including Wisconsin, where MRAA members met with the Governor’s Department of Tourism last week.
If you have questions, please contact MRAA Public Policy Manager, Will Higgins.