ROANOKE — Gov. Ralph Northam said a new statewide office will capitalize on a “recession-proof industry” in Virginia before he paddled across Carvins Cove in a kayak.
Northam announced the creation of the Office of Outdoor Recreation last week at Carvins Cove Natural Reserve. State and regional officials joined Northam for the ceremony in Botetourt County.
It will operate out of the governor’s office and advocate for the state’s parks and other outdoor activities, and recruit new outdoor businesses, with a focus on manufacturers of outdoor products such as kayaks and bicycles.
Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade Cassidy Rasnick will serve as director. Agencies working to promote Virginia’s outdoor assets and business climate will provide staffing. Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew Strickler also will work with the office.
Pete Eshelman, director of outdoor branding for the Roanoke Regional Partnership, said he began urging the state to develop an outdoors recreation office three years ago. He said the outdoors is the fabric that connects all localities, and the regional partnership has used its resources to stimulate the economy.
“Our rivers and trails are much more than just dirt and water when we strategically cultivate, nurture, curate, protect and invest in our natural assets,” Eshelman added.