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Event includes resource fair, panel discussions, expert advice

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FARMINGTON — A variety of panel discussions and presentations, and a resource fair are part of the free Outdoor Recreation Industry Initiative Basecamp event planned for this weekend at San Juan College as Farmington officials continue their efforts to promote the growth of outdoors-oriented businesses in the area.

The city has presented similar events in the past, but Farmington economic development director Warren Unsicker said this marks the first time the city has received a grant from the New Mexico Office of Outdoor Recreation to help cover the costs of the gathering.

Unsicker said this year's event will unfold on a somewhat larger scale, and he expects it to attract at least twice as many people as the 20 to 30 visitors who have attended in the past.

Because of the state money, a limited number of businesses will have the opportunity to mount marketing campaigns through a program administered by San Juan College called the Outdoor Recreation Marketing Toolkit, Unsicker said. The program allows businesses to receive free expert assistance in such areas as logo and website development, as well as social media marketing campaigns.

"They'll get their presence kick-started from a PR perspective," he said.

The ORII Basecamp includes tours of The Big Idea maker space at the college, a facility that is available for business owners interested in having a place to develop or build new products. A resource fair will include business consultants, possible funding sources and other potential partners for entrepreneurs looking to launch a business related to outdoor recreation or the hospitality industry.

Unsicker said that part of the event is designed to acquaint business people with free and low-cost services that are available to them as they get their projects off the ground.

Several presentations and panel discussions are slated throughout the day, including one by Doug McKim, an outdoor recreation specialist from the Farmington Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management, who will address the specifics of obtaining the necessary permits to do business on agency land.

City officials will discuss their vision for promoting the growth of an outdoor recreation-based economy, and a panel of local manufacturers will discuss their experiences in Farmington, according to a press release.

The gathering is targeted for people already working in the outdoor recreation industry or anyone with an idea related to the field. But Unsicker said anyone who takes an interest in the subject also is encouraged to attend.

"We just want to make sure they've got broad-based support from the community from the (Farmington) Convention and Visitors Bureau, from the (Farmington Chamber of Commerce) and from the various cities and the county," he said. "We're making sure people know they aren't going it alone."

Unsicker said the event will serve as a preview of sorts for the third annual New Mexico Outdoor Economics Conference scheduled for Oct. 1-2 at the Farmington Civic Center. That conference brings together a statewide audience of government and industry leaders, as well as advocacy groups, for an event designed to explore ways to grow the outdoor recreation industry. Last year's event in Silver City featured a crowd of more than 300 people.

The ORII Basecamp takes place from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. March 7 in the Merrion Room at the San Juan College School of Energy, 5301 College Blvd. in Farmington. Anyone wishing to attend the event is asked to register online at farmingtonORII.org.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or measterling@daily-times.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly/216TU0e

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