Rep. McLachlan: Colorado welcomes the Outdoor Retailer show

Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018 4:39 PM

Gunnison and other mountain towns consistently run into a mutual problem: guests leave early because they can't acclimate to breathing in the high altitude. When resident Roanne Houck graduated from medical school, her father asked her to do a little research to solve this dilemma. She ended up creating Acli-Mate Mountain Sports Drink, a business featured at the recent Outdoor Retailer and Snow Show in Denver last month.

It's a phenomenal step for such a small company; Roanne's husband, Gunnison County Commissioner Jonathan Houck, said the show has been a great boon to their business. The first day after being featured on the Denver news, sales jumped immediately.

I had the pleasure of welcoming the Outdoor Retailer show to Denver on the House floor in the Capitol, letting organizers know how grateful Colorado is for the business and awareness they are bringing to Colorado. Outdoor Retailer's three shows in January, July and November moved to Denver this year after 20 years in Utah. The industry decided to change venues after the state government decided to support the Trump administration's plan to drastically reduce the size of Bear's Ears and Grand Staircase national monuments.

Utah's loss is our gain.

Though the shows will take place in Denver, the positive effects will spread throughout the state. Front Range urban residents need the space the rest of the state offers to enjoy the outdoors. I spoke with so many buyers and sellers from around the world, all of whom showed great interest in the skiing, snowboarding, fishing, hunting, and hiking we do in Southwest Colorado. Outdoor recreation, a $28 billion industry in Colorado, employing 229,000 people, is a perfect fit for our region of the state. It creates well-paying jobs and year-round incomes like it has done for Acli-Mate from Gunnison and Osprey Packs in Cortez.

One of the best parts about the outdoor shows is the focus on education. Every morning, buyers and sellers can attend a breakfast focusing on championing recreation as the next economic engine for rural and urban communities. They focus on consumer trends, waste in packaging and economic factors. Participants also learn how to manufacture using less water and how to address the climate change that could negatively affect their businesses. They learn about the health benefits of their industry: the improved physical fitness, increased confidence and reduced stress they experience is a boon to Coloradans' health.

One breakfast focused on getting more women into the industry; since 2015, more than 75 outdoor company executives have committed to attract, retain and advance more women as a cornerstone strategy.

As legislators, we can continue focusing on the ideals that brought this convention to Colorado. We need to help preserve the lands we have open for hunting, fishing, snowmobiling and skiing. We will continue to emphasize the need for clean and plentiful water. We can focus on bringing small businesses to every part of the state to create strong local tax bases.

And we can stop arguing about whether climate change is a theory, and get to work doing something about it. Snow sports need snow.

Rep. Barbara McLachlan