Natural Advantages: The Power of Parks, Heritage and Outdoor Assets

Natural Advantages: The Power of Parks, Heritage and Outdoor Assets in the Place-Based Economy (INT)
Brad Garmon, Michigan Environmental Council: Ann Conklin, Michigan Recreation and Park Association

Parks, natural areas and outdoor recreational assets can help communities address one of the state's biggest economic and social challenges: attracting and retaining talent. This session helps participants move beyond generic "quality of life" strategies by focusing on lifestyle strategies that combine outdoor activities, natural and heritage assets and social opportunities. Using simple demographic data, desktop research and marketing and branding approaches, this session will provide a blueprint for re-thinking and re-envisioning the role that outdoor assets play in community economic development. The information provided will provide decision makers, managers and stewards tools to leverage parks, recreation, heritage and natural resources to improve economic development and quality of life. Participants will be given a brief overview of the Governor's State Parks and Outdoor Recreation Blue Ribbon Panel report and recommendations.

Brad Garmon, Michigan Environmental Council
Brad Garmon's public policy work focuses on natural resources and place-based economic development. He was appointed by Governor Snyder to the Michigan State Parks and Recreation Blue Ribbon Panel in 2011, the DNR's Public Land Strategy Committee in 2012 and DEQ Water Strategy Cabinet in 2013. He serves on the board of the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance, the Pigeon River Country Advisory Council, Michigan Sense of Place Council, and the Michigan Tourism Strategic Plan's Resources and Environment Working Group. He moved to Michigan from Kansas in 2001 with degrees in earth science, geospatial analysis and English.