Grassroots organization promotes hunting to boost state economy |

Grassroots organization promotes hunting to boost state economy

Cami DiBattista | for Trib Total Media
Ronald Virag, president and chief executive officer of the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau, welcomes guests to a seminar for Hunting Works for Pennsylvania, an organization working to promote strong, economic partnerships between hunters and the local economy. A representative from the organization met with local business owners recentlyh at the Ramada Ligonier to explain the program.

With nearly 1 million hunters spending $986 million dollars each year in Pennsylvania, hunting plays an important part in the region’s economic prosperity.

At a regional meeting held at Ligonier Ramada on Nov. 14, a representative from Hunting Works for Pennsylvania, a grassroots organization that works to promote partnerships between hunting and shooting communities in state and local businesses in an effort to promote hunting, emphasized the huge effect the sport has on the Pennsylvania economy.

“The total ripple effect from hunting in Pennsylvania is $1.6 billion,” Rob Sexton, coordinator of communications and membership, said during the open forum discussion.

With hunting directly affecting businesses such as sporting retailers, restaurant owners, hotels and motels, gas stations and convenience stores, hunting and shooting organizations, chambers of commerce, visitor bureaus and more, many of these establishments have a vested interest in promoting the sport, according to Sexton.

“Hunting Works For Pennsylvania is a coalition of businesses and organizations with a mission to educate the public and decision-makers in PA about the economic impact of hunting,” Sexton said of the organization.

Launched in 2010, Hunting Works currently has 130 members statewide.

“We believe that communication is important and we work to provide a unified voice for all of the stakeholders, monitor public policy decisions and weigh in on hunting-related issues that impact many jobs in PA,” Sexton said.

Hunting supports thousands of jobs across the state, translating into $529 million in salaries and wages, according to statics from the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, National Survey of Fishing Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation and the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

“There’s no doubt the impact is significant,” said Chad Amond, president of the Westmoreland County Chamber of Commerce. “The message needs to be shared.”

Hunting Works For Pennsylvania will serve to facilitate important public policy dialogue and to tell the story of how Pennsylvania’s hunting heritage positively affects conservation and jobs throughout the state.

Sexton invited local businesses owners and organizations to join the coalition at no cost and to display a Hunting Works For Pennsylvania sticker in their window to show support.

“It’s a way to say that hunters are important to the livelihood of your business,” Sexton said.

Sexton added that the organization will contribute to public outreach and educate the public and policy makes about hunting impacts on the economy.

Deb Driggs, owner of the Supper Club in Greensburg, said her supporting the organization is a no-brainer.

“As a business owner, the whole idea is to expand your business,” Driggs said. “I look at this as an opportunity to attract travelers and locals.”

Driggs said she looks forward to hosting a wild game dinner at her restaurant, and possibly featuring a speaker from Hunting Works For PA for the event.

“Between the number of local hunters and those from out of the region who come to the Laurel Highlands to hunt, we’re aware of the importance of what hunting brings to our area for local business,” said Ron Virag, president of the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau. “We support what ‘Hunting Works for Pennsylvania’ is doing.”

Cami DiBattista is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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