Greater Pittsburgh Tri-State Outdoor Economy
Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC)
The Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) was formed in 1970 as a statewide environmental “coordinating organization” to which individuals, other organizations, government, and business and industry could turn for information on environmental issues. PEC focuses on legislative, regulatory, advocacy, and analysis activities, as well as innovation, collaboration, and education to protect and restore the state’s natural and built environments. PEC believes in the value of partnerships with the private sector, government, communities and individuals to improve the quality of life for all Pennsylvanians. The organization works to bring all sides on environmental issues to the table to search for common ground, and develops programs and on-the-ground projects that demonstrate elements and benefits of the policies it advocates for.
PEC engaged Fourth Economy to explore opportunities to develop and promote the Pittsburgh region as a hub/gateway for outdoor economy opportunities available within three hours drive time of Pittsburgh. This region includes 11.5 million people in parts of Maryland and New York, as well as larger portions of Ohio and West Virginia.
The biggest opportunity is the ability of outdoor recreation to drive community improvements, including job creation, small business development, tourism spending, talent attraction and retention, and societal values like improved physical health and mental wellbeing. This is especially true for the region’s rural and formerly industrial areas, which have few opportunities for economic growth and development. The region is in pursuit of a few key goals – supporting the region’s current outdoor recreation components, investing in key areas for improvement, and promoting the sector to drive tourism, create opportunities for economic development, and generate improved quality of life for all.
To do this, we profiled leading and peer case study outdoor economy regions, to understand what makes their outdoor economies excel and to learn lessons around best practices that could be applied in this region. We also identified the customers for the regional Outdoor Economy, through a combination of desktop research and data analysis using Policymap, ESRI, and Replica software, which provides mobile location, consumer resident, and credit transaction data directly connected to consumption and travel habits within the built environment. Based on those two components, we developed scenarios for the future of the regional outdoor economy – what it might look like if particular investments are made, and built recommendations for strategies, policies, and programs to strengthen the local outdoor economy.
The deliverable – a short pitch deck and executive summary that can be circulated to partners and funders – will help PEC explore the themes examined in the report with existing and potential collaborators, and garner support for recommendations around promoting and activating outdoor assets for greater accessibility, advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the outdoors, coordinating on investments into connected infrastructure, and communicating the impacts of the outdoor economy in a unified voice.