2017 Republican gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie today announced a detailed plan to grow Virginia’s $21.9 billion outdoor industry. As governor, Ed will advocate for outdoor recreation in Virginia as a viable growth industry, including the many benefits associated with recreating in the Commonwealth’s outdoor spaces. Gillespie will also launch “The Outdoor Dominion,” a major initiative to make Virginia the outdoor recreation leader of the East Coast. This is Gillespie’s twelfth major policy announcement in his campaign, and eighth since becoming his party’s nominee.
Ed Gillespie said of the announcement, “Virginia is blessed with beautiful beaches, soaring mountains, scenic rivers and waterways, and breathtaking valleys. No other state in the nation combines such natural beauty with all four seasons, deep history, the variety of recreation, and our signature warm hospitality. Virginia should be a national leader in outdoor recreation, and with the right leadership, we can be.”
Speaking about the policy Honorary Policy Chair and former governor George Allen said, “As governor, Susan and I championed Virginia’s outdoor attractions including hallowed battlefields, parks, rivers, mountains, caverns and coast. From hiking, biking, canoeing, horseback riding and camping to celebrating our beautiful, historic outdoor activities-we enjoyed memorable experiences from the ocean to the Virginia Creeper Trail to the Cumberland Gap. We’re glad to see Ed Gillespie announce his invigorating plan for our outdoor economy. He will advance good policy to help grow this important area of tourism to the benefit of Virginians and our guests from around the world!”
“Virginia is blessed with natural beauty that attracts thousands of visitors every single year to every region of our Commonwealth,” said Speaker Bill Howell. “From the private and public providers, to the local and federal partners, we are fortunate to be home to a thriving outdoor economy. We can do more and as governor, Ed will grow our outdoor dominion and help make Virginia a true destination for adventurers and explorers from across the world.”
“Virginia is rich with history, beauty, and adventure,” added Policy Leadership Team Co-Chair Speaker-designee Kirk Cox. “Ed’s plan to propel our outdoor economy to the next level is exactly the type of creative leadership we need in our next governor. I look forward to joining Ed and Cathy for the first ‘Summit on the Summit’ in 2018.”
Policy Leadership Team Co-Chair Senator Mark Obenshain added, “As a resident of the Shenandoah Valley, a region that relies heavily on tourism, I am glad to see Ed Gillespie advance plans to grow our outdoor economy. Virginians should be impressed with his creative ideas to grow our tourism and adventure economy!”
Katrina Jenkins of Oak Tree Outfitters said of the plan, “My husband and I are proud to be small business owners in the outdoor economy, I am glad to see Ed Gillespie announce a plan to grow this important part of our economy. From our business in Gloucester to our favorite camping site in Southern Virginia, Virginians far and wide should appreciate the beauty and adventure of our great Commonwealth. I’m proud to support Ed’s vision for the outdoor economy.”
GILLESPIE’S “OUTDOOR DOMINION” INITIATIVE
To advance Virginia’s outdoor recreation economy requires an enterprise approach, as opposed to promoting the various activities in silos. Suppose you are planning an outdoor family adventure on the East Coast of the United States. To evaluate Virginia’s opportunities, you would have to check numerous websites, consult multiple databases and you still couldn’t be sure that you have explored all of Virginia’s many outdoor options. Our state can and should be a top destination for families and individuals across the country, and we must market ourselves with that goal in mind.
Ed will launch a major initiative to make Virginia the outdoor recreation leader of the East Coast. This initiative, “The Outdoor Dominion,” will recognize and promote Virginia’s outdoor recreation industry in the following ways:
Outdoor ‘Summit on the Summit’
Convene Virginia’s first “Summit on the Summit” as an annual day for Virginians to get outside to reach the summit of their chosen mountain. Ed and Cathy will summit Bluff Mountain near Buena Vista!
It is important to market Virginia in a coordinated fashion that promotes our public and private assets. Colorado launched a website – the Outdoor Recreation Information Center (ORIC.org). This site is a public-private partnership that is an easy to search catalog of outdoor recreation activities available in Colorado including those hosted by local governments (parks and trails), the Federal Government (parks, forests), state government (parks, fishing, hunting) and private sites (camping, rafting). Visitors can search by activity, area of interest and type of interest.
As governor, Ed will establish TheOutdoorDominion.com modeled after Colorado’s ORIC. The site would be administered by the Virginia Tourism Corporation to display links to maps, costs and sign ups as applicable. For fishing and hunting activities, the site will link to online license applications. The OutdoorDominion.com will provide a comprehensive outdoor recreation website that will serve as a one-stop public information hub for outdoor recreational opportunities and resources in Virginia.
Open Clinch River State Park
Virginia is blessed to be home to many state and national parks that provide activities for Virginians and our guests. As governor, Ed will advance and open Clinch River State Park in Southwest Virginia, further advancing a major tourism and outdoor economy initiative taking root in the region.
50 New Stream and Water Access Points
Virginians and our guests enjoy our rivers and streams and frequently request new water access points to make the experience more enjoyable. As governor, Ed will work to add 50 new river, stream and water access points on government owned lands.
Outdoor Asset Report
As governor, Ed will direct the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the Virginia State Park System to provide a comprehensive report of our award winning state parks, including maintenance needs, recommendations for the development of new and expansion of existing programs that enhance outdoor recreation and access (including infrastructure needs such as trails, campsites, boat launches, etc.), an assessment of developing new parks and the appropriate resources necessary to implement these objectives. This will be a focused expansion of DCR’s overall strategic report that includes state parks. This report will utilize various resources including the individual state park’s decennial master plans, DCR’s 2015 Capital Request document and Virginia Tech’s 2016 State Parks Economic Impact Study.
Identify Job and Capital Investment Opportunities to Grow the Outdoor Economy
While tourism is a large component of this industry, outdoor recreation is not exclusively a tourism economy. In addition to the many vital local retail stores, we also have national outdoor retail companies establishing a presence in Virginia. This includes Backcountry.com, the largest online outdoor retail store that built its East Coast distribution center in Montgomery County, further highlighting the logistical advantage Virginia enjoys over other states.
As governor, Ed will direct the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) to actively search for economic development opportunities related to outdoor recreation and to include consideration for this industry and its benefits for recruiting prospective employers.
Partner with the Outdoor Recreation Caucus to Advance Eco-Tourism and Eco-Education
Engage with the Virginia Outdoor Recreation Caucus, comprised of state legislators, executive branch officials and private sector stakeholders to advance eco-tourism and eco-education.
Outdoor Economy Executive Order
Ed will issue an executive order recognizing outdoor recreation as a significant industry in Virginia. The executive order will direct the Secretary of Commerce and Trade and the Secretary of Natural Resources to convene an Outdoor Recreation Advisory Panel of relevant state officials and stakeholders for the purpose of developing a comprehensive strategy to market and support the outdoor recreation industry in Virginia. This advisory panel will utilize and provide recommendations regarding the statutorily required five-year Virginia Outdoors Plan (VOP) and other related tools, including the VOP Mapper system and the Virginia Outdoors Demand Survey.
The Outdoor Dominion initiative will ensure outdoor recreation is fully recognized as a significant Virginia economic driver and will expand on those successes, ensuring that all Virginians and our guests can enjoy the natural wonders and opportunities our great Commonwealth has to offer.
The full plan can be found HERE. Gillespie has released eleven other major policy proposals including:
- The “Cutting Taxes for ALL Virginians” Plan cuts individual income tax rates by ten percent across-the-board, putting nearly $1,300 more in the pocket of a family of four and creating more than 50,000 new full-time private sector jobs.
- The “FAITH In Our Government for ALL Virginians” Plan will close loopholes and give Virginians a better opportunity to hold elected leaders accountable for their actions.
- The “Efficiency + Effectiveness: A Government that Works for ALL Virginians” Plan will reorient government to more successfully address Virginia’s problems, demand evidence-based solutions, right-size our government to better steward taxpayer dollars, and incentivize our state government workforce to be more responsive to the needs of all Virginians.
- The “Removing Barriers to Job Creation for ALL Virginians” Plan will bring meaningful reform to remove barriers to job creation, making it easier for businesses to grow and thrive in the Commonwealth. It focuses on standing up for Virginia’s job creators, reforming Virginia’s regulatory climate, reforming occupational licensing and streamlining business formation.
- The Mental Health, Addiction, and Recovery Agenda will improve Virginia’s behavioral health system and address all facets of the opioid and heroin addiction crisis, including prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery.
- The Veterans and Military Affairs Agenda will improve career opportunities for veterans, give veterans a greater voice in our government, support our military and their families, and care for our veterans and their families.
- The “Job One: Keeping Virginia Safe” Plan will improve public safety in Virginia by eradicating gangs, reforming the system, and rewarding those who serve and protect.
- The Agriculture and Forestry Agenda shows exactly how Gillespie will champion Virginia’s agriculture and forestry industries, prioritizing efforts to expand exports and open new markets for Virginia products.
- “An Excellent Education for ALL Virginians” Plan will strengthen Virginia’s education system, ensure that every child, in every community, has access to a high quality, safe and student-focused public education, and better align our workforce development system with the demands of the marketplace of today and the future.
- The Six Point Sea Level Rise Action Plan will take proactive steps to enhance infrastructure, empower cities and regions to lead, flood proof our military installations and fight for more affordable flood insurance for Virginia families and businesses.
- The Plan to Expand Access to High Speed Internet will remove regulatory barriers and finance broadband deployment to provide more reliable internet access to Virginians in every corner of the Commonwealth.