Jobs, Forests & Rivers

Clean rivers are vital to our economy The Dan River Valley is a “water rich” landscape with more than the national average of acres in forest canopy. When DRBA was founded, many of the natural resources in the Dan River Basin were in fairly good shape.

The local rivers were in better condition than they had been when the textile mills pumped dye waste water in them. (Old timers remember the Dan River running in vivid multi-color.)

It would be an overstatement to say there were no environmental problems; however it was lack of jobs in the wake of the textile shut downs and tobacco quota system that most people were concerned about.

Tourism is one area of the Dan River Valley’s economy with consistent growth. While no single industrial category exists to track tourism, there are sectors of the economy that are closely associated, and can be used to indicate long-term patterns of change.

These include components of retail trade; passenger transportation; art, entertainment and recreation; amusement and recreation; museums, parks, and historical sites; and eating and drinking establishments. These can serve as a proxy for tourism-related jobs in order to illustrate long-terms trends and relative size.

Branding our beautiful valley as an outdoor recreational playground offers a range of meaningful opportunities. Small businesses thrive in an outdoor recreation economy: outfitters, guides, production of local, specialty foods, and more.

A recently released report on the economic impact of outdoor recreation finds that 6.1 million American jobs are “directly supported by the outdoor industry,” and “Americans spend $646 billion each year on activities like camping, hunting, and snow sports. This is a bigger economic impact than those of the pharmaceutical and gasoline and fuel industries.” The report points out that America is globally recognized as the leader in outdoor recreation.

Advancements in technical apparel, footwear and equipment for outdoor activities are driving innovation and entrepreneurship, while creating a demand for highly skilled workers in areas like technology, product design, manufacturing, sustainability and global commerce.

A tremendous diversity of career opportunities exists beyond product-related jobs. By building our outdoor recreational venues, we will simultaneously strengthen our position for cultivating higher paying professional and technical jobs in marketing, manufacturing, real estate and other trades.

So join us, the Dan River Basin Association, in our quest to make the Dan River Valley region a great place to live, work and plan.