RV Industry Association's Legislative Analyst Ashley Brinkman recently presented to the Minnesota Outdoor Recreation Task Force on the RV industry’s efforts to establish Offices of Outdoor Recreation (OREC) in states across the country and the multitude of benefits to having these offices in each state – primarily on four key areas.

Over the course of this series, we have detailed the first three benefits: information sharing, collaboration, facilitation, and relationship building, actively promoting accessibility to the outdoors, and technical assistance. We conclude with the timeliest of these benefits – help in times of crisis.

HELP IN TIMES OF CRISIS

The COVID-19 pandemic really put the skills, expertise, and professional networks of RV Industry Association’s government affairs team to the test. In March, suddenly every governors’ office across the U.S. was inundated with thousands of letters and emails and calls, all asking for help. In the case of those states with OREC Directors – we knew exactly who to call to make sure our concerns were heard at the highest level, above all of the noise of other interests asking for their own form of assistance.

We did not have to start from scratch with advocating on behalf of the industry,” said Brinkman.
“These OREC Directors already understood how vital the outdoor recreation industry was to their state and were reaching out to us to check in, to ask our members to participate in working groups, going directly to the Governor on our behalf or getting a seat on COVID-19 Response Task Forces, and giving insider credibility to our asks and offers.”

The OREC Directors were also responding with ‘here’s what the reality is’ in response to our asks, letting us know timelines for reopening, keeping us informed on developments or questions, and pushback they were getting from the Governors’ leadership so we could respond and assuage concerns. Where they could step up to help us on their own without needing the signoff of the Governor, they did.

The North Carolina OREC Office is a great example of the benefit of having an OREC Director to respond the changes and challenges presented by COVID-19. Early on during the pandemic, the North Carolina OREC Office helped develop a new website connecting manufacturers and essential providers. As other manufacturers looking to help our first responders did, SylvanSport began manufacturing personal protective equipment (PPE) at their facility and tapping into their supply chains to source PPE as well, but needed help with rapidly taking on an entirely different manufacturing process than they were normally accustom. As manufacturers like SylvanSport pivoted to address the shortages of PPE, they faced a slew of obstacles in locating correct materials, regulatory information, and direct connections to essential providers. Supply Connector provided a nationwide platform for direct, rapid response to these obstacles.

This is an incredible success story where existing relationships in the North Carolina outdoors industry facilitated by the OREC Office led to the rapid development of this website. A 100 percent volunteer effort from a business management firm and web design agency that had a relationship working in a coalition with the NC Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry rose to meet this challenge in impressive time.

OREC offices have many benefits, four of which we have detailed over the past two weeks, which is why the RV Industry Association’s government affairs team, in coordination with the wider Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, has committed to establishing OREC offices in all 50 states.

For questions on how you can get involved with the OREC office in your state, or assistance with establishing an office if your state does not already have one, please contact Ashley Brinkman at [email protected].