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Sustainable Economic Development


“How do we plan and develop an outdoor recreation economy that’s right for our community?” That’s the most common question we get from local partners. Dozens of New Mexico Tribes, counties, and towns are interested in growing their outdoor economies – prioritizing environmental, public health, educational or tourism gains (or all the above). How to pull it off sustainably and in a way that benefits residents is the hard part. And many communities are simply strapped for time and resources when it comes to intentional, proactive strategic planning.    

That’s why ORD hired Public Land Solutions (PLS) in 2022 to work with every region of the state to develop bespoke outdoor rec strategic plans, compile data, and prioritize outdoor projects so they’re funding-ready. PLS is a nationally respected non-profit dedicated to providing comprehensive recreation planning and stakeholder coordination. Working with ORD, they’ll provide expert technical assistance to every community that wants it to create custom action plans to grow local outdoor rec economies and prioritize specific outdoor rec projects.  

Starting in 2022, PLS is scheduling in-person and virtual meetings and workshops throughout the state as part of the NM Uplift Initiative. They’ll develop strategic plans for each of the six Economic Development Department regions. Ultimately, the goal is to foster regional collaboration around an area’s outdoor economy, develop a cohesive vision of the region’s outdoor brand and its future, and prioritize specific projects to advance that vision. Visit the Outdoor Recreation Stakeholder portal to get involved and stay informed for the NM Uplift Initiative.


Interested in starting or expanding your business in New Mexico? You’ve come to the right place. One of the top priorities of the Outdoor Recreation Division is to support the companies that power this economy, bringing jobs and wealth to our state’s residents.

Check out the Economic Development Department resource center for a full list of the tools we offer to support in- and out-of-state companies.

If you’re an outdoor recreation business owner, please email us for more details on how we can help you. We can also send you our NM Outdoor Recreation Business Guide.

Watch ORD’s March 2021 webinar on EDD, ORD, Tourism Department, and federal resources for businesses.


In 2019, we awarded two $50,000 grants to incubators to assist early stage outdoor businesses. The awards went to San Juan College Enterprise Center in Farmington and to Creative Startups, which developed in-person and virtual Outdoor Recreation LABS in rural libraries across the state. Both were chosen for their regional focus to help outdoor rec startups in service, retail, and manufacturing.

In May 2021, the Outdoor Recreation Business Accelerator grant was awarded to three applicants to support outdoor rec companies — both early stage and established. Read the award announcement.

Starting in the spring of 2024, the Outdoor Recreation Division has partnered with CNM Ingenuity’s ActivateNM to create ActivatOR Outdoor Recreation Growth Accelerator, a free business accelerator tailored to established outdoor recreation businesses and startups located in or expanding to New Mexico. This program will be offered for three consecutive years.

Over the course of the 14-week program, ActivatOR participants will attend a series of virtual workshops along with weekly one-on-one mentoring sessions with industry experts that understand the challenges of the outdoor market. Participants will also have networking and event opportunities. The networking component brings together like-minded founders, potential investors, and strategic partners who are all focused on outdoor recreation. ActivatOR participants who attend 10 out of the 13 workshops or mentoring sessions will also receive a free ticket to the September New Mexico Outdoor Economics Conference in Las Cruces.


The upcoming New Mexico Outdoor Economics Conference, created by Outdoor New Mexico, will be held in Las Cruces, September 25 – 25, 2024. The conference highlights successful community economic development efforts within and outside of New Mexico connected to protected lands and focuses on the development of governmental policies and local entrepreneurship tied to these opportunities. The exciting three days will also unite leaders across the state interested in developing and enhancing opportunities to grow New Mexico’s outdoor recreation economy.

The Outdoor Recreation Division is proud to host our annual Adventure Pitch at the Outdoor Economics Conference. For more information on the 2024 event as it is announced, visit the official conference website.


In 2021, ORD invited outdoor businesses to participate in the first-ever Outdoor Pitchfest in Farmington during the Outdoor Economics Conference. Business ideas related to the nature-based outdoor recreation industry were eligible. The six finalists pitched their ideas to a panel of judges from the economic development, outdoor industry, and investing sectors. Read more about the participants.

Congrats to Susan of Free-to-Roam eBiking and Frankie of Bosque Mobile Bike Repair, winners of the Judges’ and Peoples’ Choice awards, respectively.

The event returned as the Adventure Pitch to the 2022 Outdoor Economics Conference. ORD partnered with CNM Ingenuity for the facilitation of the event. Adventure Pitch was live streamed from the ORD Facebook page during the conference. The 2022 competing finalists were announced in September and the winners were announced on October 7th at the event. Read about the winners here.

In 2023, Adventure Pitched returned to the Outdoor Economics Conference held in Santa Fe, October 23-25. The six finalists pitched their ideas to an expert panel of judges — and the winners were announced moments afterward. Read about the winners here.

Adventure Pitch will return to the 2024 Outdoor Economics Conference held in Las Cruces, September 23-25. Application for this year’s Pitch opens this summer.


In April 2021, an innovative New Mexico MainStreet (NMMS) and Outdoor Recreation Division (ORD) collaboration launched to connect communities’ downtowns with their natural resources. NMMS and ORD will create the “Outdoor Recreation Asset Atlas” to study five counties. The end result will identify up to five trail creation or improvement projects connected to MainStreet districts. Outdoor recreation development, when connected to MainStreet community downtowns, has great potential to support local, asset-based economic development.


Jacks Plastic Welding makes some of the best whitewater gear on the planet, including the iconic Paco Pad. They’ve also signed contracts with NASA and other cutting-edge tech companies to produce custom, life-saving products. Based in Aztec, Jacks is one of the state’s outdoor industry leaders. Listen to CEO/President Errol Baade articulate the company’s vision and why they’ve chosen New Mexico.

To learn more about other New Mexico outdoor economy leaders, check out our YouTube channel featuring Pablo Lopez of Outdoor Adventures in Las Cruces, Frank Vilorio, a fishing guide in Elephant Butte, and State Representative Angelica Rubio on southern New Mexico’s premiere bike destination.