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Outdoor recreation industry growing in Idaho

By By Caleb James, Reporter
Published On: Feb 18 2013 11:23:40 PM CST

Caleb James reports.

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho -

Idaho is home to many special industries fueling our state's economy.


There's the nuclear research industry right here in eastern Idaho. Idaho’s agricultural economy stretches statewide. 


On Monday, there are new figures that show a sizable increase in Idaho’s outdoor recreation economy.


“Business is good,” said Bill’s Bike Shop manager Brandon Fell. “It's been a steady incline over the past few years.”

 

Fell knows the outdoor recreation industry is making an uphill climb across Idaho, but just how big the industry has become can be a bit of a shock, even for an industry professional.


“It is surprising to see that it is a big number,” said Fell. 


The big number Fell mentioned is new data compiled by the Outdoor Industry Association, which shows outdoor recreation jobs stand at about 77,000 across the state. 


That’s compared to only 22,500 agriculture jobs.


“Idaho in general, there's a lot of growth we see in the cycling industry,” said Fell.

 

Fell said the numbers might have something to do with increased interest. The cycling industry is seeing some boost in sales as cities like Boise become more bicycle friendly. 

     

“Idaho Falls is in the process of expanding its bicycle friendly abilities,” said Fell. “In Idaho Falls it's growing very big, both mountain biking and road cycling. 

     

There's such a potential cyclist market, Bill's Bike Shop plans to expand later this year, to a bigger location in Snake River Landing where Fell said customers will be able to rent and test drive new bikes before buying. He said encouraging numbers like the ones from the Outdoor Industry Association show more bicycle-friendly cities can have an impact on the state. 

     

“It will help the economy grow,” he said “It will help people get excited.”


The Outdoor Industry Association shows outdoor recreation accounts for more than $6 billion for Idaho businesses annually.


Fell said he hopes local city leaders will push to make Idaho Falls more bike-friendly.

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