Guest editorial |

Guest editorial

Outdoor Retailer Tradeshow: It’s Time To Depart Utah

Peter Metcalf, Black Diamond Founder & CEO Emeritus

Over the past several months Utah’s political leadership has unleashed an all-out assault Utah’s protected public lands and newest Monument and it’s time for Outdoor Retailer to leave the state in disgust.

Over 20 years ago, I successfully led the effort to relocate the Outdoor Retailer Trade show to Utah. The state has some of the country’s most beautiful, varied, wild and iconic public lands that personified what our industry was all about. Utah’s public lands also formed the underpinnings of the state’s great competitive advantage – an unmatched quality of life unique to much of America that has attracted some of the best & brightest companies and their employees to the state.

This is precisely why I relocated the business I founded, Black Diamond (BD), to Utah in 1991. Thanks in part to both Outdoor Retailer (OR) tradeshows and BD’s arrival in Utah, the outdoor, ski, sportsmen, and recreation industries have had mercurial growth here and become one of Utah’s and the country’s largest economic sectors. Today, the outdoor industry nationally generates nearly $650 billion in GNP activity and in Utah alone nearly $12 billion with over 120,000 jobs. In addition, the twice annual OR show brings nearly $50 million in direct spending to Utah which boosts the prosperity of many small businesses in the state.

Our tradeshow, Utah’s outdoor recreation industry, and the relocating of many high tech businesses to the state are predicated in great part to the thoughtful public policy that includes unparalleled access to well protected, stewarded, and wild public lands. Tragically, Utah’s governor, congressional delegation, and State Legislature leadership fails to understand this critical relationship between our healthy public lands and the vitality of Utah growing economy.

Governor Herbert and Utah’s DC delegation are leading a national all-out assault on the sanctity of Utah and the country’s public lands. Together, Utah’s political leadership has birthed an anti-public lands political agenda that is the driving force of an existential threat to the vibrancy of Utah and America’s outdoor industry as well as Utah’s high quality of life.

Specifically, Utah’s top elected officials’ stated strategy is take down our newest national monument, Bears Ears; gut the Antiquities Act, starve funding from Federal land management agencies, and transfer our country’s public lands to state ownership where the state will sell, and prioritize extractive use over all others. They rationalize with false truths, fictional ideologically based narratives, and fear mongering. They neglect the critical role public lands play in boosting Utah’s economy that make the state a great place to live, work, and play. They even fail to understand that four of Utah’s five iconic national parks, which are the economic engines of their regions, were created through use of the Antiquities Act – as was Bears Ears National Monument.

This agenda is antithetical to our industry, let alone the majority of our citizens regardless of party affiliation. By our industry’s twice annual tradeshow remaining in Utah, we are actually complicit collaborators in our own demise. It’s time for the Industry to again find it’s voice, speak truth and power to power while making it clear to the Governor and the State’s political leadership that this tradeshow will depart with the expiration of the current contract in 2018 unless the leadership ceases its assault on America’ best idea.

We are calling on Governor Herbert, Utah’s Senators and Congressional delegation, its State Leaders to drop its efforts to take down Bear Ears National Monument, to gut the Antiquities Act, to transfer OUR public lands to the states and to gut funding for these monuments, parks and public lands. If they don’t, the Outdoor Retailer Shows must leave Utah. The Utah delegation has wasted no time in the first days of 2017 to enact their destructive agenda and hence the Outdoor Industry too must respond boldly and unified while we are here in Salt Lake.

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