Findings from The SHIFT 2017 Business Alliance Workshop Published

On November 3, 2017, at The 2017 SHIFT Conference in Jackson, Wyoming, leaders from multiple states involved in creating or advancing alliances of businesses related to the outdoor industry gathered at the first annual Business Alliance Workshop to discuss elements of their success. Topics under consideration included:

  •      Why outdoor business alliances are formed
  •      How they are organized
  •      Common themes and differences
  •      Examples of success
  •      Support alliances need to have even more of an impact

A summary of the workshop, including key takeaways, may be found here.

“One of the best ways to make the business case for public lands is to hear directly from business leaders who care about the outdoors, including leaders whose businesses depend on public lands or outdoor recreation, and those whose businesses are located in a community because owners and employees want to enjoy the outdoor way of life,” said Christian Beckwith, SHIFT’s director.

“These leaders can speak directly to why we need public lands and how they contribute to the economy.”

“It can be particularly compelling when businesses form or join alliances that amplify their collective voice,” agreed Cailin O’Brian-Feeney, State and Local Policy Manager for the Outdoor Industry Association. “Alliances can open doors, forge partnerships across sectors and across political divides, spur economic growth, and create meaningful change.”

“By working together, businesses and partners can be a strong voice to promote outdoor recreation and the lands and waters that support the outdoor recreation economy,” said Ray Rasker, Executive Director of Headwaters Economics and the workshop moderator.

A distillation of the workshop’s proceedings was compiled by independent consultant Meryl Harrel, with assistance by Lana Weber of the Idaho Conservation League and Gerben Scherpbier of SHIFT. The document includes key take-away points from the workshop, and was used by Weber and O’Brian-Feeney in late April as part of a meeting on the development of a business alliance in Nevada.

Workshop Leaders who participated as moderator and panelists were all founders or members of an outdoor business alliance or council as well as founders, executive directors, and staff of businesses and non-profit organizations.

“The bottom line is that outdoor recreation and public lands are good for business and can help diversify and grow local economies,” said Beckwith. “Bringing together alliances or coalitions of small businesses and other partners that can represent that viewpoint is powerful and helpful.”

A second annual Business Alliance Workshop is under consideration for the 2018 SHIFT Festival, which will be held October 16-18 in Jackson, WY. Those interested in further information may reach out directly at

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