According to the Outdoor Industry Association, last year’s national outdoor economy generated $887 billion. That’s more than the automobile, oil and pharmaceutical industries. The inaugural Gateway Outdoor Summit, scheduled for Friday, January 11, 2019, at the St. Louis Union Station Hotel, will explore how St. Louis can be more proactive in creating access to outdoor recreation for all of its citizens and at the same time leverage it for the benefit of the regional economy.

“The Gateway Outdoor Summit is our region’s opportunity to celebrate what we’ve already achieved in outdoor recreation, imagine what’s possible and begin the conversation to building a truly exciting outdoor culture here,” said Greg Brumitt, principal at Active Strategies and one of the organizers of the event. “A robust outdoor culture can not only build economy but also help create great places to live, work and play — and it’s time for St. Louis to join the movement.”

The forward-looking event, held as part of an expanded Mississippi Valley Bike + Outdoor Expo weekend, will bring together leaders from around the country and locally who are building community…outdoors. The keynote speaker will be St. Louis native Luis Benitez, director of the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office. Benitez, who has climbed Mount Everest six times, serves as an advocate for Colorado’s bustling outdoor industry, which includes not only the country’s most trafficked ski resorts but a growing number of outdoor businesses.

“Growing up in St. Louis with a grandfather who owned a sporting goods store and discovering outdoor recreation in places like Johnston Shut-Ins State Park for rock climbing, hiking Taum Sauk Mountain or fly fishing in the Current River, the constant was that Missouri always has and always will understand the value of her natural resources,” said Benitez. “Now it’s time to translate that understanding into action towards deepening the outdoor recreation industry economy across the state.”

A preliminary list of sessions to be held at the Gateway Outdoor Summit include:

  • Why Outdoor Recreation? – A panel of experts discusses the many advantages of an active outdoor culture, some obvious and others surprising.
  • The Game Changers – A look at cities like Knoxville, Bentonville, Roanoke and Duluth that are altering the outdoor recreation paradigm and benefitting.
  • Elevating Access for All – Everybody should be able to enjoy the outdoors, no matter their race, gender, mobility or skill level.
  • Craft Beer Visioning Session – A facilitated workshop for turning regional outdoor recreation opportunities into action, with craft beer!
  • Summit Soiree – Can’t make the entire Summit? Consider joining us for a cocktail hour before the keynote to mingle with attendees, presenters and stakeholders from across the region.
  • Keynote Address – Luis Benitez, director of the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office.

The Gateway Outdoor Summit will be free to attend with advanced registration. For more information about attending, please visit

Expanded Expo Weekend
The Gateway Outdoor Summit on Friday, January 11, 2019, will occur the day prior to the opening of the Mississippi Valley Bike + Outdoor Expo, which will also take place at St. Louis Union Station Hotel and is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, January 12 and 13, 2019.

The 17-year-old tradeshow started as a one-day event with a bicycle-only focus in the early 2000s and has since grown to include a full spectrum of outdoor activities such as running, hiking, camping, climbing, paddling and more. Attracting more than 100 vendors and 2,500 attendees each year, the Expo is the premier consumer event for the regional outdoor community.

In 2019, the Expo will be moving to St. Louis from Collinsville, Illinois, where it has been held for the past dozen years, and will expand to encompass a full weekend, thereby offering more experiences than ever before. In addition to hosting the Gateway Outdoor Summit and offering two days of exhibition hours, it will feature a party on the evening of January 12 celebrating the fifth anniversary of Terrain Magazine, one of the event producers.

“It’s our goal at Terrain to keep listening, to keep evolving and to keep finding new ways to be a voice for the local outdoor community,” said Brad Kovach, editor/publisher of Terrain. “A relocated and expanded Mississippi Valley Bike + Outdoor Expo serves that goal. We look forward to building a bright future in our new home in downtown St. Louis and can’t wait to be part of the first-ever Gateway Outdoor Summit.”

For details about the Mississippi Valley Bike + Outdoor Expo, visit Those interested in becoming an exhibitor or sponsor can contact Zac Metcalf at 314-561-4701.