Missouri loves the great outdoors

DanThe people who know me best understand that I don’t like big gifts. When shopping for me, my family and friends know to look for something small. It should be something that’s simple and yet very useful. But most important, it should be plastic and wallet-sized and sport a Bass Pro Shops logo — a gift card to one of my favorite places.

Just this past weekend — it’s mid-July as I write this — I used a gift card while visiting the Bass Pro Shops location in Columbia. An expert staff member there restrung my rod and reel. I also bought a few packs of my favorite bass fishing lure, the Zoom Bait Horny Toad. These were my final preparations before my family and I left for our annual fishing trip.

I love the outdoors. I realize this perspective is far from unique. Outdoor recreation is an $887 billion industry in our country, supporting 7.6 million jobs, according to the latest data from the national Outdoor Industry Association.

Missourians are blessed with incredible natural resources that enable us to experience the outdoors in many ways. Hunting and fishing are a big part of our state’s culture, as are canoeing, powerboating, bicycling and hiking.

Our outdoor resources are important tourism drivers. The most recent annual report from the Missouri Division of Tourism shows that 13 percent of the visitors to our state came to see our state parks. Nine percent traveled to Missouri for our fishing and boating opportunities.

Our state’s love of outdoor recreation has spawned several major businesses here. Bass Pro Shops, headquartered in Springfield, draws more than 120 million visitors annually. This massive Missouri business is poised to double in size with its $4.2 billion acquisition of Cabela’s. Check out our interview with Jack Wlezien, Bass Pro Shops’ director of communications, to read more about the Cabela’s deal and everything else happening at Bass Pro Shops. Read the story here.

We also highlight the unique boat-building industry in Lebanon. The community has a multigenerational heritage as the aluminum fishing boat capital of the world. The town’s manufacturing sector is booming right now thanks to what industry leaders are calling a “golden age” of boat buying. We visit Lebanon and go inside G3 Boats in our story.

Missouri is also home to Stark Bro’s Nurseries and Orchards Co., the world’s largest direct-to-consumer nursery. This company, based in Louisiana, Missouri, can ship as many as 15,000 plants and trees a day during its busy season. At 201 years old, Stark Bro’s is still one of the top innovators in its industry. Learn how they do it.

In addition, we visit businesses in Chilhowee and Windsor to learn about the economic impact being felt along a new bike and equestrian path there. Economic growth along the trail has many small communities hoping for a possible trail expansion. Read more here.

We’ve had a hot summer in Missouri. I don’t blame you if you’ve spent much of that indoors. But as the weather cools this fall, I hope you get outside. As you do, you’ll be supporting a huge, important industry in Missouri.

And if you’re going bass fishing, try the Zoom Bait Horny Toad.

One comment

  • Well said! When visiting any MO State Park you will notice a lot of out-of-staters. We rented a cabin at Bennett Springs State Park in June and met folks from several other states. Too often we take for granted the beauty of Missouri and our wonderful state parks and conservation areas.

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