September 2023  SORBA Staff Members Attend Outdoor Economy Conference

SORBA Staff Members Philip Darden (Executive Director) and Jen Flavin (Development Director) Attended the 5th annual Outdoor Economy Conference in Cherokee, NC themed, ‘Connecting the Ecosystem’. With over 50 speakers and more than 600 attendees, there was no shortage of opportunities to exchange information and ideas.  Woven throughout the core Program Tracks were key common threads, including: Equity, Sustainability & Resiliency, Funding, Accessibility & Inclusivity, Workforce, Leadership, User Retention & Growth, Policy, Data & Trends.

The Presenting Sponsor for the event was the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Both SORBA staff in attendance joined the Fire Mountain Trail Excursion, where they learned about Cherokee history and culture through storytelling and a Mountain Bike Ride led by Laura Blythe, Program Director of the Cherokee Historical Association, and Dorene O’Malley, Director of Advocacy & Outreach for Cane Creek Cycling Components.

Sessions were led by experts from across the country, including West Virginia University, CU Boulder, Utah Division of Outdoor Recreation, The Outdoor Industry Association, REI Co-op path Ahead Ventures, North Carolina Dept of Natural and Cultural Resources, IMBA, District of Pisgah National Forest, Montana State University, Founded Outdoors and many others.

The expo space also offered networking opportunities with Leading Outdoor Companies including ENO, The Outdoor Business Alliance of WNC, Mountain Bizworks, REI, Mast General Store, Pirani, Recover Brands, and a multitude of other outdoor vendors and organizations.

Executive Director Philip Darden described the conference as ‘one of the best networking events in the Outdoor Industry.’ Development Director Jen Flavin said about the conference, ‘It was a fantastic way to meet people who are passionate about the Outdoor Industry, and to be reminded of the incredible economic impacts we’re bringing to communities.’

SORBA would like to thank the organizers and sponsors of this event which brings together people from across the country in the Outdoor Industry.