In Michigan, Outdoor Rec Industry Rebounds to $10B in 2021 | Athletic Business

In Michigan, Outdoor Rec Industry Rebounds to $10B in 2021

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The outdoor recreation industry in the Great Lake State reportedly grew last year to be worth $10 billion, according to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis. The data shows that Michigan’s boating industry is the fifth largest in the nation, while the state ranks seventh in recreational vehicle activity.

The industry employs nearly 10,000 people, according to a report by Grand Rapids-based Mlive Media

“The outdoor recreation economy is a powerful, unifying force for better health, good jobs and private sector investment all across the country,” said a statement from Brad Garmon, executive director of the Michigan Outdoor Recreation Industry Office.

Michigan’s outdoor economy increased by more than 15 percent from 2020 to 2021, an annual report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows. The impact is greater now than it has ever been in the 10 years since federal officials starting measuring it.

Data shows outdoor recreation in Michigan grew steadily from 2012 until the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020. But the latest report shows it has rebounded and exceeded 2019 levels by about $27 million.

This impact hit the Muskegon Luge Adventure Sports Park.

“With the pandemic, we really saw a boom in the amount of visitors just with everything else being shut down,” said outdoor adventure specialist Dan Bonner, as reported by Mlive Media.

As one of only four public luge tracks in the United States, the park located in Muskegon State Park also offers ice skating, cross country ski trails and sledding. It recently added summer sports to the lineup with a quarter-mile zipline, archery shooting range and hiking trails.

Bonner said summertime visitors come from areas throughout the Midwest like Chicago, Ohio and Kentucky. But daily winter visitors tend to be local to Muskegon or Grand Rapids.

“We continue to see a growth in sales and number of visitors just from the success we had last year,” Bonner said.

In 2021, outdoor recreation pumped $454 billion into the national economy with states like California, Texas and Florida leading the pack. Nationally, the economic impact grew nearly 25 percent in a year, Mlive Media reported.

Michigan ranked 13th, with boating and fishing added nearly $1 billion to the total outdoor economy.

RVing brought in $719 million, other activities like outdoor concerts or gardening accounted for $2 billion and what’s called “supporting activities” – or construction, tourism or government dollars – made up 35% of the industry.

“The state of Michigan is blessed with outstanding natural resources along with critical capabilities in design, engineering and advanced manufacturing that make it a great fit for innovative outdoor recreation companies,” Michigan Economic Development Corp. CEO Quentin Messer said, according to the Mlive report.

Michigan’s successful outdoor rec industry has been boosted by the "Pure Michigan" travel campaign that has become an economic driver since it launched in 2006. Even though ads went silent three years ago, the iconic marketing effort had, as of this fall, $40 million to spend on boosting the tourism economy.

Brands headquartered in Michigan like Carhartt, Merrell shoes and Stormy Kromer winter hats have helped, too, according to the Mlive report.

Michigan also invested $250 million of federal pandemic aid in the state parks system earlier this year. And the Michigan Outdoor Recreation Industry Office was recently moved into the state economic development office to foster the industry.

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