Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economy June News – Vermont Biz


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Vermont Outdoor Business Alliance June marks the opening of Vermont’s state parks and trail networks, which were busy over the Memorial Day weekend. June is also Pride Month which provides an opportunity to support the LGBTQ community and address barriers to access in the outdoors. The anniversary of the murder of George Floyd serves as another reminder that there is still much work to do in making Vermont's workspaces and outdoor places truly welcoming and equitable.

VOBA continues its aspirations to advance justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) for BIPOC, LGBTQ, all ability, and women communities. And, many outdoor businesses are leading the way in the inclusivity practices used for hiring, trail construction, and partnerships with outdoor organizations. Hear panelists describe JEDI best practices at last week's VOBA spring networking event here (passcode: a81*fBK%).

VOBA report elevates importance of outdoor recreation to local economies

As employment opportunities expand to meet growing participation, VOBA seeks to better understand which positions are most difficult to fill, especially in technical trades, product development, and digital marketing. Take VOBA's workforce survey and describe education, certifications, and skills sets.

The growth of the outdoor recreation sector was reinforced in a new report released by Headwaters Economics and the State Outdoor Business Alliance Network (SOBAN), which includes VOBA. Data and testimonials highlight ways that outdoor recreation contributes to economic success from attracting a younger workforce to business diversification and resilience of natural environments.

VOBA’s close to 80 members help drive the economic recovery in many of Vermont’s outdoor recreation destinations. VOBA’s membership drive kicks off July 1, so thanks in advance for your renewal or for becoming a member!

We look forward to working together!

Timber and Stone, LLC  is one of the many Vermont trail construction businesses that have been busy with projects this spring and have used design to make the outdoors ADA accessible. The Legislature approved over $10 million in funding for the Agency of Natural Resources to improve recreational infrastructure and access by investing in repairs and improvements to Vermont’s trail network on both private and public land.


Over 70 registrants for VOBA's spring networking event on June 3 had the chance to hear from industry and policymaker panels discussing the reopening of Vermont's outdoor businesses, economic recovery assistance, marketing resources, and infrastructure investments. For those who were unable to attend, listen to the recording (passcode: a81*fBK%).

Outdoor leaders from Burton Snowboards, Timber & Stone, LLC, REI, Outdoor Gear Exchange, and Pale Morning Media described innovations and challenges in hiring, supply chain, sustainability, trail construction, and JEDI.

Policymakers from Vermont's Department of Economic Development, Vermont's Department of Tourism and Marketing, and the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative (VOREC) described available grants for economic recovery, marketing, and infrastructure.

Several programs included:

The Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) launched the Economic Recovery Bridge Grant Program on June 7 to provide $30 million in funding to businesses who can show a net loss on their 2020 federal tax returns. The program will give priority during the first 30 days to businesses that have yet to receive any state or federal financial support from COVID-19 recovery programs. Program guidelines and frequently asked questions are available at the ACCD Recovery Resource Center.

Vermont is close to reaching 80% vaccination and lifting all COVID-19 restrictions. ACCD has been scheduling walk-in Vaccine Clinics at locations around the state, including businesses and state parks. Businesses interested in creating pop-up clinics for employees or customers or in having a vaccination booth at an upcoming event can submit information through the Vaccine Clinic Registration form. 

The VOREC Community Grant program received $5 million from the Legislature for communities that are leveraging their local outdoor recreation assets. In the coming weeks, the grant program will launch the 2021 application process. Key changes: Funding for up to 25 grants that span a variety of “buckets,” including projects focused on equity, regional/multi-community efforts, and local/smaller efforts; Grant minimums set at $50,000 with no maximum to encourage partnership building and regional scale thinking; and, Applicants will apply using a two-step letter of interest and application invitation process, supported by a series of virtual informational and matchmaking meetings. Details coming soon on the VOREC Community Grant Program website.   

Photo courtesy of Bicycle Express


VOBA is developing an outdoor industry employment and talent pipeline initiative focused on the sector's current and future needs for jobs and skills. VOBA has launched a survey and research project with the University of Vermont's SIMPACT consulting group to identify the outdoor positions most difficult to fill and to map outdoor industry-related education and training.

Take VOBA's survey by June 20 to inform the needs, especially in the areas of technical trades, product development, and digital marketing. Describe valued degrees, certificates, and trainings, approaches to recruitment and retention as well as ways workplaces can be more equitable.

Survey takers will be entered into a drawing to receive a pair of Darn Tough Vermont socks, a $60 Lenny's Shoe & Apparel gift card, or a lottery ticket. Thanks in advance for your time!


The positive economic impacts of outdoor recreation and outdoor recreation businesses will be a leading driver of post-pandemic recovery, according to a report released this week by VOBA and the State Outdoor Business Alliance Network (SOBAN).

Titled “Inspiring the Future Outdoor Recreation Economy,” the report is a deep dive into the many local economic benefits of outdoor recreation, as well as a call to action for continued investment in the outdoor sector. It features data, testimonials, and photos from different states across the country, including Vermont.

The report was produced by Headwaters Economics, an independent nonprofit research group, and made possible by the REI Foundation and a collective of 13 state and national outdoor industry organizations.

Montpelier's Mirna Valerio rides in Stratton for a Lazer Helmets/Shimano photo shoot. Photo courtesy of Chris Milliman.

Onward for Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

In the spring of 2020, VOBA joined outdoor businesses and organizations across the nation in standing with Black Lives Matter and calling for an end to the racism, discrimination, and inequities towards Black people. We also recognized the need to support people of color, LGBTQ, all ability, and women communities within our industry.  

At that time, the VOBA Board of Directors issued a statement in support of positive change, marking the beginning of our organizational aspirations in advancing justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI.)

One year later — amidst the anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, and the start of the Pride Month celebration — challenges remain. Violence against BIPOC communities continue, restrictions to LGBTQ rights are increasing, and gender wage and education disparities persist.

VOBA acknowledges that there is much more to be done to ensure that workplaces and outdoor spaces are welcoming and equitable for ALL. We appreciate all those who have helped us learn. We have valued working together to bring about change over the past year.

This summer and fall, we invite more outdoor businesses and organizations to join our efforts to: 

  • Expand the outdoor sector best practices inventory

  • Continue VOBA’s organizational mission integration, mapping JEDI to our mission, purpose, functions, and strategies

  • Integrate inclusive hiring and human resources into outdoor workforce development

  • Continue to develop relationships with, and be an ally to, individuals and organizations

  • Organize meetings and trainings with VOBA members

  • Explore professional diversity support for VOBA’s leadership and membership

  • Explore policy proposals for possible engagement in 2022.

To get involved in VOBA's JEDI work group, contact Executive Director Kelly Ault at [email protected] or Board of Director Miguel Reda at [email protected]


VOBA represents businesses and nonprofits that produce, provide, or sell outdoor recreation products or services in Vermont, as well as other businesses, organizations, individuals, and entities that have an interest in growing Vermont’s outdoor recreation economy. VOBA's third membership cycle begins on July 1, 2021 and goes through June 30, 2022.

  • Be represented in local, state, and federal discussions about the outdoor recreation economy;

  • Be informed through online and email communications;

  • Learn at education events;

  • Participate in work groups designing strategies to grow the sector; and

  • Network and collaborate with outdoor recreation leaders.

Lend your expertise as an Industry Member, Supporting Associate, or Strategic Associate.

Members receive the following benefits: Website and social media recognition; event and workshop participation; newsletter subscription; access to research and reports; networking and mentoring opportunities; media promotion; organizational decision making; and, work groups engagement. Additional benefits, such as voting rights, policy advocacy support, and promotional opportunities, apply to some categories.

As a nonprofit organization, VOBA relies on your member donations and your membership ensures that you are part of VOBA’s efforts to network, educate, and advance strategies that will strengthen, expand, attract, and retain outdoor recreation economy businesses in Vermont.

Join the 80 member businesses, organizations, and individuals that are lending their voice to strengthening Vermont's outdoor recreation economy. 

Find categories, benefits, and how to join today!

The Vermont Outdoor Business Alliance (VOBA) is a statewide non-profit organization of outdoor recreation businesses that works to educate Vermonters about outdoor recreation and to educate Vermont outdoor businesses about development initiatives, collaboration opportunities, and outdoor recreation economy policy.

VOBA is dedicated to strengthening, expanding, attracting, and retaining outdoor recreation economy businesses in Vermont.

Tell VOBA's Board of Directors your ideas for VOBA


Drew Simmons, Pale Morning Media, Chair

Michael Schmidt, Velocity Sales and Marketing, Vice Chair

Lisa Lynn, Vermont Sports & VT Ski+Ride Magazine, Secretary  

Jordan Jiskra, Burton Snowboards, Treasurer

Corinne Prevot, Skida Headwear & Accessories

Greg Manning, GM Consulting

Laura McLaughlin, Outdoor Industry Manager

Marc Sherman, Outdoor Gear Exchange

Mark Yardley, Darn Tough Vermont

Miguel Reda, Outdoor Gear Exchange

T.J. Whalen, FreshTracks Capital

Wendy Knight, Strategic Communications Executive

Kelly Ault, Executive Director

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