Journal Article

Investing in the Great Outdoors

Abstract: While the appeal of Mother Nature has always been self-evident to enthusiasts, the COVID-19 pandemic brought in new converts. Once it became clear that the virus spread less easily in open spaces, and with many indoor options shut down, outdoor recreation became a compelling option for anyone looking to escape their home or apartment in 2020. In addition to visiting state parks and trails in record numbers, many Americans moved from cities to suburbs, small towns, and rural places in search of more open spaces. According to a March 2023 report from Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies, change-of-address requests through the U.S. Postal Service were 22 percent higher in March 2020 compared to a year earlier, and 14 percent higher in April 2020 than in April 2019. States that gained from domestic migration in 2020-2021 included places with desirable climates and outdoor recreation opportunities, such as the Sun Belt and the Mountain West. Even before 2020, there was evidence that natural amenities and the general quality of life in a community were important factors in people's decisions to visit or move to a place. Many believe that the pandemic and the rise in remote work has reduced the importance of proximity to employers when choosing where to live, making a place's outdoor amenities even more significant. But is investing in outdoor recreation a good strategy for a community's long-term economic growth?

Keywords: Economic Growth; Small Town and Rural Communities; Community Development Finance;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond

Part of Series: Econ Focus

Publication Date: 2024-04

Volume: 24

Issue: 1Q/2Q

Pages: 6-9