Public lands vital to local economies

The Hill

It has often been said that people must speak out in defense of our common land, since it cannot speak for itself. In light of recent attempts to undermine federal protection of public lands, this is true now more than ever. Some lawmakers are pushing for the privatization of federal lands: a recent budgetary amendment would allow states to sell national forest land. But what many policymakers don’t realize is that public lands aren’t just beautiful places to visit or environmental havens—they are vital to local economies and small businesses across the country. While we recognize our great outdoors during National Parks Week, let’s take a look at the role these lands play in the success of small businesses and our economy.

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Protecting Lousiana’s Public Lands a Sure Path to Prosperity

Huffington Post

Small businesses are the lifeblood of Louisiana’s workforce. They account for 97 percent of all businesses in the state and employ more than half of all private sector workers. We depend on them to keep local communities thriving, but in the current fiscal climate, many small business owners are having a hard time turning a profit. Now is a better time than ever to help them get back on their feet, and new scientific opinion polling reveals Louisiana entrepreneurs believe protecting their state’s natural assets is one way we can help small businesses and local communities thrive.

There’s a reason why Louisiana is nicknamed the “Sportsman’s Paradise:” the state is home to 2.1 million acres of public lands, and wildlife tourism contributes $2 billion in revenues annually and supports 82,000 jobs. From swamp tour businesses to local hotels and restaurants, Louisiana’s public lands are important to the success of small businesses. Continue reading

New TV Ad, Opinion Poll Highlight Colorado Small Businesses’ Support for Balanced Energy Policy That Ensures Protection of Public Lands

Colorado small business owners strongly believe the preservation of the state’s natural assets is essential to their financial success and that of local economies, and they support the president’s ‘all-of-the-above’ strategy to develop new energy resources, particularly if it includes provisions to protect public lands, according to opinion polling we released this week and reflected in an ad airing in the Denver metro area.

Check out the ad here:

The poll, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, found nearly two-thirds (63%) of Colorado small business owners agree, with 43% strongly agreeing, that access to parks, public lands and other outdoor opportunities is a large part of the reason they live and do business in Colorado. Exactly half agree Colorado’s national parks, forests, monuments and wildlife habitats are not only an essential part of the outdoor culture and quality of life, but also one of the reasons they do business there.

In addition, 72% support the president and Congress’s “all-of-the-above” energy strategy, which promotes development of various energy sources including solar, wind, natural gas, oil, coal and more. But they find this policy even more attractive if it takes steps to ensure some areas remain accessible to visitors and free of development: 55% would be more likely to support an all-of-the-above strategy that takes that extra step. This is more than double the percentage of owners who would be less likely (26%). Today, Small Business Majority released a TV commercial in the Denver area demonstrating support from real small business owners who are looking for an all-of-the-above energy approach that protects public lands.

“Very recently, I moved my company to Colorado because I knew it was the ideal place to find the right customer demographic—and the most well-suited employees—to make my business thrive,” said John Land Le Coq, owner of Fishpond Inc. and Lilypond Inc. in Denver. “As a company that offers outdoor products, it’s important to us that we use our business to spread the word on issues that revolve around the outdoors. We didn’t start the company this way, but it became who we are because of the big impact that protecting the outdoors has on the success of our business. ”

A recent proposal in Congress that garnered small business support in the poll would establish Browns Canyon and the Arkansas River Valley as a national monument. Two-thirds support this proposal, which would allow continued vehicle access and public use of Browns Canyon such as hunting, fishing and rafting, but prohibit new oil and gas drilling, and other development.

In addition, small business owners agree by a 4:1 ratio that protecting public lands by designating new national monuments and national parks would positively (rather than negatively) impact local jobs and the economy. Another 53% feel such efforts would positively impact small business opportunities tied to public lands, and 51% say it would help Colorado attract and retain entrepreneurs and new businesses.

Our nation’s most prolific job creators are asking that smart steps are taken to preserve Colorado’s natural assets because they believe it’s good for business. It’s evident public lands play an important role in entrepreneurs’ decisions to open businesses in Colorado. And they’ve seen firsthand that protecting those areas can attract business, which is why they’d like to see national monuments established to preserve them, and it’s why they are asking lawmakers to balance public lands protection as they develop new energy policies.

This was not just a poll of owners whose income is related to outdoor activities. In fact, 87% report their revenue is not tied to open space in any way, such as selling outdoor equipment, offering bike tours or even just owning a business near a touristy outdoor area. When asked how their businesses are faring, 41% of Colorado small business owners say they’re doing well, while only 12% say they’re not doing well.

Additional findings from the poll include:

  • 83% agree we can protect land and water, create jobs and maintain a vibrant economy simultaneously.
  • 93% believe national parks, forests, monuments and wildlife areas are important to Colorado’s economy.
  • 92% believe public spaces drawing tourists can boost business for local restaurants, hotels, grocery stores and more.
  • 66% believe we should not allow more private companies to develop public lands when doing so would limit the public’s enjoyment of them.
  • 53% identified as Republican or independent-leaning Republican, 28 percent identified as Democrat or independent-leaning Democrat and 18 percent identified as Independent.

For more information on the poll, visit http://www.smallbusinessmajority.org/small-business-research/public-lands