This year’s H20 keynote speaker, Craig Mackey, knows the value of recreation. For years, he led policy and lobbying efforts for the Outdoor Industry Association. Grokking the connections between water flows, the economy, lifestyle choices and recreation is something he’s thought a lot about and acted on.
The Forum believes water recreation has now taken its place alongside water demands for day to day living, meeting agriculture needs, and supporting manufacturing as core values. Register now to hear Craig’s insights on this topic, and what it means to critical choices being made in our region.
A 2013 economic analysis of Washington State showed over 20.5 billion dollars of direct expenditures and 200,000 jobs are associated with outdoor recreation. In addition, $4.6 billion is flowing into the economy from out-of-state visitors. This same report showed the recreation contribution to Spokane County as being over $1.3 billion in direct expenditures and over 12,000 jobs.
No wonder then that the Spokane River finds itself in the middle of conversations to meet both water demands and recreation. Said Cheryl Kilday, President and CEO of Visit Spokane, “Whether a visitor or resident can touch the water or not, they expect water to be part of their experience. When we market the convention center, we say take a right to the river and left to downtown.”
It’s a big deal. In 2015, Spokane area visitors spent $947 million, paid $64 million in local and state taxes, and supported more than 10,000 jobs. Added Kilday, “The convention celebrates that with idyllic views, art and the ability to rent a paddle board right outside the door.”
Spokane Valley is tapping into the scene as well. New water trail access points at Islands Trailhead and Sullivan Bridge are supporting anglers, paddlers and tubers enjoying the scene. And in December, the City Council heard a presentation on boosting tourism in Spokane Valley, one of the projects presented was a waterfront park in tandem with a whitewater course. These projects were selected by a survey of stakeholders for further analysis. The analysis estimated a whitewater park would generate more than $2.5 million of revenue and support almost $1 million dollars in wages.
The Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce echoes these thoughts with their Big 5 initiative. “The Greater Outdoors,” is one of the big 5 said Melanie Russell, Director of Strategic Initiatives. “When you promote and protect the vitality of the outdoors, it brings tourism and attracts future employees. Nothing speaks to that like the Spokane River running right through Spokane Valley.”
Said Andy Dunau, the Forum’s Executive Director, “The assumption in all of this is that we have water, and plenty of it. Putting recreational enthusiasts, tourism experts and the folks pumping water to meet our daily needs in the same room to talk about how to have our water and drink it too strikes us a good idea.”
Be part of the conversation, register now.