MRAA, Outdoor Recreation Leaders Back Bill to Bolster Rural Communities, Outdoor Recreation Economy

MINNEAPOLIS, Sept. 13 – The Marine Retailers Association of the Americas (MRAA) and leading outdoor recreation organizations are backing Senator Michael Bennet and Congresswoman Melanie Stansbury’s newly-introduced Rural Outdoor Investment (ROI) Act. This bill provides much-needed support for rural communities seeking to build and plan for recreation economies.

If passed, the ROI Act’s funding is ideally timed. Outdoor recreation participation skyrocketed during the pandemic as millions of Americans flocked toward local and federal public lands and waters. For the gateway communities alongside these treasured destinations, this new interest presents excellent opportunities for economic diversification and stability, as well as new challenges to manage around stewardship, housing and visitor management. The ROI Act would direct resources to help communities strategically integrate outdoor recreation into their plans.

“As evidenced by the hundreds of rural communities who have applied for federal technical assistance to support economic development through outdoor recreation in recent years, as well as the unprecedented numbers of Americans flocking to the outdoors, we have an outstanding opportunity to meet the moment through the Rural Outdoor Investment Act,” said Jessica Wahl Turner, Outdoor Recreation Roundtable President. “The ROI Act is aptly named as it will help bring rural communities a big return on outdoor recreation investments in the form of social, economic and environmental benefits for locals and visitors alike.”

The ROI Act will provide:

  • $30 million for public works through the Economic Development Administration (EDA). To fund necessary infrastructure improvements from signage to boat ramps and new trails.
  • $5 million for grants through EDA for communities to create recreation economy plans that optimize their natural spaces including marketing, branding, business development, fundraising and tourism management.
  • $2.5 million in university partnerships to promote place-based research, education and technical assistance to local stakeholders and businesses for this high-growth sector.
  • $12.5 million for the Recreation Economy for Rural Communities (RERC) grants program for main street revitalization through outdoor recreation.
Jeff Strong, MRAA Board Chair

“The Rural Outdoor Investment Act will create common-sense changes to pre-existing programs and direct money to communities to help bolster and grow their outdoor recreation economies,” says Jeff Strong, MRAA Board Chair and President, Strong’s Marine. “From additional funding to improve boat ramps to money aimed at helping communities’ market their recreational offerings, this bill will benefit the recreational boating industry, boaters and anglers and rural communities alike.”

Read more about the ROI Act here. Read the full ROI Act bill language here.

If you have further questions, email Mike Sayre, MRAA Director of Government Relations or Chad Tokowicz, Government Relations Manager.

About the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas
At the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, we believe that for the marine industry to thrive, the retail organizations that interact with the boaters in their community must thrive. With that in mind, MRAA works to create a strong and healthy boating industry by uniting those retailers, providing them with opportunities for improvement and growth, and representing them with a powerful voice. For more information, visit or contact us at 763-315-8043.