New Hampshire has year-round outdoor recreation options, and the state is looking to use that to grow jobs and attract workers.
The New Hampshire Department of Business and Economic Affairs (BEA) will launch the Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry Development through legislation signed by Gov. Chris Sununu earlier this month.
BEA Commissioner Taylor Caswell said the new office will integrate tourism and economic initiatives to attract younger workers interested in the state’s outdoor options as part of their lifestyle.
Think mountain biking after work or kayaking over the weekend.
“It will use a lot of the same sort of approaches and strategies we use to bring people to come here for vacation and twist that message a little bit into, ‘Wouldn’t you like to come and live here and be a part of our workforce or open a business here?’” Caswell said.
The model can work across the entire state whether a company is looking to recruit engineers or manufacturing workers, he said.
“It is absolutely being used by a lot of employers,” he said.
The state also hopes to draw companies in the outdoor industry, which already employs 38,000 people in New Hampshire. Nationally, the outdoor industry is a $427 billion economic engine, according to a news release.
Caswell said other states are finding success with similar programs and that New Hampshire is a natural fit.
“When you live here, skiing a few runs or riding singletrack on a Thursday afternoon is part of your everyday life, and that’s something that is definitely appealing for our employers as they recruit a younger workforce,” he said.
The first step is hiring a director for the new office. Additional responsibilities will include coordinating policy, management and promotion at the local, state and federal levels and promoting job growth through collaborating with a variety of businesses and economic development partners throughout the state, according to the news release.
Most states are using similar offices more for tourism promotions.
“We’re really going to focus more on the workforce and business recruitment side,” Caswell said.
Sununu said the low-tax environment and booming economy are a “beacon for business” in the northeast.
“This office will allow us to better leverage the tremendous outdoor recreation opportunities we have here in the Granite State to not only grow the industry, but attract the workforce of the future,” he said in a statement.