When discussing how Colorado communities around the state can benefit from Denver landing the Outdoor Retailer conference, Luis Benitez points to Ogden, Utah, as the prime example.
Benitez, director of the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, said the small city about 38 miles north of Salt Lake City used Outdoor Retailer as a way to network and show off the city by bringing visitors through and as a result landed 19 company headquarters in a 20-year span.
While that effectiveness might be hard to replicate, the show’s move to Colorado will provide a unique opportunity for cities and towns all across the state — including in the Grand Valley — to network and possibly attract outdoor-oriented businesses to their community.
“It’s a phenomenal opportunity to showcase Colorado brands and businesses,” said Travis Campbell, president of Steamboat Springs-based SmartWool, during a panel discussion on the Outdoor Retailer show Thursday at the Colorado Governor’s Tourism Conference.
Topics ranged from how Denver rearranged a puzzle of 26 different conventions to accommodate the conference to the estimated economic impact of the show, but for other areas around the state, the panelists made it clear they feel all of Colorado will feel the effects.
Benitez compared the show to the Democratic National Convention, but with “puffy jackets,” and later said Grand Junction should be in great shape to benefit from this relocation.
He referenced the planned business park at Las Colonias Park near the Colorado River as a differentiator and that many other cities would love to have something like that.
“It helps a lot,” he said.
City leadership is also important, he said, referencing Grand Junction Mayor Rick Taggart’s background as past CEO of Marmot Mountain Works and Swiss Army Brands.
“He knows what the industry is capable of and exactly what it takes to recruit companies,” Benitez said.
Visit Grand Junction, in partnership with the Grand Junction Economic Partnership and the Greater Grand Junction Sports Commission, already has big plans for next year’s shows in January, July and November.
According to Visit Grand Junction Director of Sales Barbara Bowman, the trio will be in Denver and promoting the valley as a destination for outdoor recreation and bringing tour groups over after the show, while also conducting a billboard campaign in Denver.
It will be the first time the city has actively promoted itself during the Outdoor Retailer show.
Denver officially landed the show in July when it decided to leave Utah after many years when some large retailers threatened to pull out of the show due to the actions of some lawmakers.