Schumer Says Since The Start Of The Pandemic Outdoor Recreation Tourism In Upstate New York Has Skyrocketed, BUT Federal Support For This Vital Economic Driver Has Not Kept Up, Staggering Growth & Stifling Opportunity In This Over $21B Industry That Provides 240K+ Jobs Across NY State

Senator Says His Rural Outdoor Investment Act Would Devote $50 Million For Infrastructure, Planning, And Business Assistance To Rural Communities That Need It Most To Increase Quality Of Life And Bolster Economic Development

Schumer: It Is Time To Hike Up Funding For Upstate New York’s Outdoor Economies; ROI Act Will Be A Breath Of Fresh Air For Our Rural Regions That Depend On Recreation To Keep Main Streets Thriving & Growing

A longtime champion for the environment and outdoors, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today introduced the Rural Outdoor Investment Act (ROI) to provide vital investment and support to boost outdoor recreation, revitalize Upstate New York’s downtowns, accelerate economic recovery from the pandemic, create good-paying jobs, and bring prosperity to underserved rural areas that need the most help. Schumer explained that New York State’s outdoor recreation industry generates over $21 billion in added economic activity, $15.9 billion in wages and salaries, and in 2020 alone created and supported over 241,000 direct jobs. Schumer said that the recent resurgence and demand for outdoor recreation creates a unique opportunity for the federal government to support the transformation of local economies in Upstate New York to make communities more sustainable in the future.

“From the trails of the Adirondack Mountains to waters of the Finger Lakes, outdoor recreation is the lifeblood of so many of Upstate New York’s communities, especially our rural areas. Since the start of the pandemic, people’s passion for the outdoors has only grown, but investment for this vital economic engine has remained trapped inside,” said Senator Schumer.  “That is why I was proud to introduce the Rural Outdoor Investment Act, to hike up federal resources for communities across New York, boosting tourism, supporting small businesses, and strengthening our outdoor recreation economies. This bill will jump-start economic recovery from the pandemic for some of our most underserved areas, create good-paying jobs, and give a breath of fresh air to our main streets across New York.”

“One of the few silver linings to come out of the pandemic was a renewed interest in outdoor recreation.  Rural and upstate communities have a wealth of natural resources that, with a little investment, could become engines of job growth, help attract new residents, and improve our overall quality of life,” said New York State Association of Counties Executive Director Stephen Acquario. “In the business world, ROI often refers to “Return on Investment,” making it a fitting acronym for this legislation, which will provide the seed money to help position rural and upstate communities for success in this rapidly growing sector of the economy. Counties applaud Majority Leader Schumer for his commitment to strengthening rural and upstate communities and look forward to working with him and the rest of the New York State Congressional Delegation to pass this bill into law.”

Schumer explained that his bill focuses on three core areas of economic development to promote economic growth in rural areas:

Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure is critically underfunded and investments are necessary to construct assets like boat ramps, trails, campgrounds and other outdoor facilities.

Planning to support communities that want to grow outdoor opportunities to foster economic activity, bring in money to local businesses, and revitalize their downtowns.

Business Assistance to support recreation-related businesses such as outdoor gear and equipment rentals, shuttles, guides and outfitters, in addition to hotels, restaurants and retail.

Schumer’s effort builds on his successful inclusion of a $750 million set-aside to support the travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation economy as part of the American Rescue Plan’s $3 billion for the Economic Development Administration (EDA). New York has been awarded close to $45 million in a direct state allocation to support investments in travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation across the state.  

Schumer said this model for economic development and revitalization has been successful for many areas in New York that have leveraged natural attractions to spur economic activity, which then spills over to the entire community.

Specifically, Schumer said the Rural Outdoor Investment Act provides:

  • $30 million for public works through the EDA. This would fund necessary infrastructure improvements, including signage, boat ramps, and new trails.
  • $12.5 million for the Recreation Economy for Rural Communities grants for main street revitalization through outdoor recreation.
  • $5 million for planning grants through EDA for communities to create recreation economy plans that optimize their natural opportunities, including marketing, branding, business development, fundraising, and tourism management.
  • $2.5 million in university partnerships to promote place-based research, education and technical assistance to local stakeholders and businesses for this high-growth sector.

Senator Schumer’s Rural Outdoor Investment Act received praise from industry leaders across the state:

"COVID has caused many people to social distance in the outdoors and because of that, it has introduced them to New York State's incredible mountains, lakes, and creeks.  It’s good to see the government recognizing this and putting resources into NY’s outdoor recreation, making it even easier for people to enjoy the outdoors,” said Kevin Beckwith of Gear for Adventure, an independent specialty outdoor retailer with locations in Hamburg and Amherst, NY.

“Rural communities across the country are dealing with economic and infrastructure challenges stemming from COVID-19, climate change, and transitioning economies, all while trying to seize opportunities from massive shifts in workforce and the influx of Americans seeking the outdoors. The Rural Outdoor Investment Act will provide much needed planning, infrastructure, and business support to communities as they attract a remote workforce, grow jobs, welcome visitors, and strengthen their economies through outdoor recreation,” said Jessica Turner, President of Outdoor Recreation Coalition. “ORR has long known the return on investment from investments in recreation to rural economies and we applaud Senator Schumer for introducing this forward-thinking and essential legislation that will support every corner of the country.”

“As Americans increasingly seek outdoor recreation, many rural communities experience challenges related to the growing demand,” National Association of Counties Executive Director Matthew Chase. “The Rural Outdoor Investment Act would make available much-needed resources to rural counties and community partners. We urge Congress to pass this legislation and appreciate Senator Schumer’s efforts to enhance economic opportunities in rural America.”

“Throughout the pandemic, Americans have ventured outdoors for respite and renewal. We now have a unique opportunity to harness outdoor recreation for revitalization and resilience. This legislation will help America’s rural communities invest in recreation infrastructure that will bolster economies and develop new workforce opportunities,” said Taldi Harrison. “At REI Co-op we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well-lived. By enhancing access to quality recreation opportunities, this legislation will also support the special benefits to health and wellbeing provided by time in nature."

“Disability cuts across all other social groups within our society -- age, race/ethnicity, gender identification, income level, and zip code. Compelling data indicate that 26% of the population are living with a disability, and with $490 billion in disposable income, leaders can recognize the opportunities for and benefits of creating communities where living, working and playing are accessible and inclusive of people with disabilities. Senator Schumer’s ROI Act can play a transformative role in setting up inclusive foundations for access to recreation in rural communities”. Anita O’Brien, M.A., CTRS. Executive Director, Rochester Accessible Adventures

“The Rural Outdoor Investment Act will deliver much needed funding for outdoor recreation infrastructure in rural communities at a time when a historic number of Americans are rediscovering their passion for getting outdoors,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, President of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “We applaud Senator Schumer for leading the charge to protect and expand outdoor recreation opportunities and look forward to working with him to pass this vital measure.”




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