Minnesota-based River Valley Power and Sport founder and owner John Wooden testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Small Business on Wednesday at a hearing titled, “Force of Nature: The Power of Small Businesses in America’s Recreational Infrastructure.”
The hearing examined the economic impact of outdoor recreational infrastructure, how small business contributes to the industry and how the federal government can help the industry with a comprehensive infrastructure package, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association.
Wooden referenced the updated Bureau of Economic Analysis data released last month that shows outdoor recreation accounts for 2.6 percent of the GDP. Small businesses in outdoor recreation generate $778 billion in gross economic output and support 5.2 million jobs, Wooden said in his testimony.
“Another eye-opening figure I’ll reference is $20 billion,” Wooden said, according to his testimony, “the combined maintenance and repair backlog on our nation’s federal lands and waters system. Looking at this figure makes the BEA data even more impressive, given that outdoor small businesses across the country have been able to not just survive, but thrive, despite the crumbling conditions of the physical environment we do business in.”
Wooden also pointed out that 16 states have created outdoor recreation offices.
The NMMA is urging congress to consider the outdoor recreational infrastructure.
“With more than 146 million Americans across the nation — nearly half of the U.S. population — participating each year in activities such as hiking, fishing, skiing, rafting and biking, outdoor recreation is among the largest and fastest-growing sectors of the U.S. economy,” said Rep. Nydia Velázquez, D-N.Y., according to the NMMA. “This industry is fueled by small businesses and creates jobs in communities across the country; it’s up to us in Congress to support these small firms. This responsibility includes making sure that public lands are healthy and air and water are clean.”