The Outdoor Retailer Summer Market is where face-to-face partnerships in the outdoor industry are forged for the future. During the largest gathering of outdoor companies in North America, city staff worked to educate as many outdoor retailers as they could about the exciting prospects of opening facilities in Montrose.
City staff attended the annual Outdoor Retailer Summer Market (ORSM) held in Denver from July 23 – 26, with the goal to strategically meet with as many outdoor retail companies about the business-friendly climate Montrose has to offer, and the city’s transformation to an outdoor destination.
Members of the Montrose Economic Development Corporation and Colorado Outdoors joined City of Montrose staff for the three-day event. According to the ORSM website, the expo is “where products are shown, orders are written, new accounts are found, connections are made, and brands are launched.”
Chelsea Rosty, the Director of Business Innovation for the City of Montrose said city staff mailed about 40 packets of information to companies ahead of the expo. The packets included a letter from Mayfly President David Dragoo about why Mayfly is investing millions into its new manufacturing facility at the heart of the Colorado Outdoors project, currently under development on the north side of Montrose along the Uncompahgre River.
Rosty said the city met with businesses from across the country who are looking for a “short commute to work with a small town pace, a lower cost of living with the same or better outdoor amenities.”
“We basically introduced ourselves, ‘Hi we’re Montrose, this is what we’re all about,’” Rosty said. “We told them that Montrose is a great place for product testing; you can test your products at 14,000 feet or in the high desert. Montrose is a cool place with a lot to offer.”
Rosty said city staff, along with members of MEDC and Mayfly Outdoors were able to have “three direct meetings” with outdoor companies interested in opening in Montrose.
“We can confidently say we have two businesses that are interested in Montrose and seeking more information about Montrose. And we will be meeting with them again, and inviting them to Montrose for a tour of the area,” Rosty said.
The Outdoor Retailer Summer Market is described as “the Mecca of outdoor retail expos” and a really profound concentration of outdoor companies, according to Rosty.
Dragoo said first impressions are the most important in meeting with outdoor companies. After sending out packets and trading emails before the expo, Dragoo said to “finally meet these people face to face and look them in the eye” is basically where the recruitment process begins.
“We had some very fruitful discussions, and I was particularly happy after leaving two of those meetings,” Dragoo said.
Rosty said the city’s investment to develop the Uncompahgre River corridor has elevated Montrose’s status in the outdoor industry.
The river’s flow, aided with agricultural water from the Gunnison Tunnel, along with efforts to preserve the river’s habitat has proven to be a point of interest with outdoor companies, according to Rosty.
“By improving the river’s habitat to Gold Medal fishing water and promoting river recreation we got a lot of positive feedback about how we’re using the Uncompahgre River as an asset,” Rosty said.
Dragoo was part of a roundtable discussion that was broadcasted live on Facebook about using outdoor infrastructure to improve the economic climate in Colorado.
The discussion also centered on using rivers to center community development around. Dragoo spoke about a 2016 Montrose citizen survey that concluded Montrose residents wanted more trails and open space to use and enjoy. Dragoo said those concerns were interpreted as “needs of the community” to grow for the future.
The panel was moderated by Chris Castilian, the Executive Director of Great Outdoors Colorado, GOCO, the organization that awarded over $2 million to the city to develop trails and open spaces to connect the Colorado Outdoors project to the southern areas of the city near the Community Recreation Center. That project is scheduled for completion sometime in 2020.
The City, MEDC, and Mayfly coalition also highlighted the city’s efforts to become a “one-gig city” by offering businesses access to high-speed broadband internet and tax incentives for opening facilities that employ local workers.
“I thought the conference was very well attended. We got a lot of good feedback,” said Dragoo. “It’s a single place that we can meet several of the outdoor businesses that we are interested in recruiting.”
See the latest video about the Colorado Outdoors project here: https://youtu.be/8Fga36IH4-c.