Brad Petersen, the first state director of the Office of Outdoor Recreation (OOR) in the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), will return to the private sector in December of this year. OOR was the first outdoor recreation office of its kind in the country.
Petersen was appointed by Governor Gary R. Herbert during the August 2013 Summer Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City. At that time, the governor also announced that recruiting Petersen was part of a plan to ensure the long-term success of Utah’s growing recreation economy. OOR’s mission would be to shine a light on the overall social, health and economic impacts outdoor recreation has on the entire state and to find ways to grow that impact
“Brad has been instrumental in raising the awareness of the recreation economy, not just in Utah, but throughout the country,” Gov. Herbert said. “Utah was the first state in the nation to initiate an outdoor recreation office, and we are happy to see other states following suit as a result of our success. Brad’s efforts will leave a lasting legacy that will benefit all Utahns for years to come.”
“Brad has successfully promoted the importance of Utah’s natural assets and recreational amenities for the state’s economy and overall quality of life,” said Val Hale, executive director of GOED. “He has helped rural Utah discover their unique outdoor offerings to support tourism and improve the health of their communities. He has also shown top business leaders that Utah is committed to maintaining that high quality of life and will continue to attract top businesses and employees.”
Petersen has focused his efforts on four key areas:
1. Expanding and improving Utah’s outdoor recreational opportunities and assets to meet the growing demand.
2. International recognition as 1) the preeminent location for outdoor products companies and 2) for using Utah’s unique natural and recreational assets to attract non-outdoor related businesses as part of their “enhanced quality of life” offering.
3. Developing a state outdoor recreation plan that supports Utah’s core values, continued economic growth and an improved quality of life.
4. Encouraging and facilitating more Utahns, and especially our youth, to get outside and participate in recreation.
A few select highlights from Petersen’s tenure include:
1. Passing HB 324 (2014), the Utah Search and Rescue Assistance card program. This program will go live November 25, 2015 at rescue.utah.gov.
2. Creating the Utah Outdoor Recreation Advisory Group and recruiting its 25 diverse advisors.
3. Producing two statewide Outdoor Recreation Summits and numerous industry collaborative events.
4. Creating the Utah Waypoint Recreation Infrastructure Grant Program in GOED to help fund rural and urban recreational infrastructure enhancement initiatives. More information about the grant program can be found at business.utah.gov.
“Serving as the first state director of outdoor recreation in the country and seeing both the local and national support has been the greatest honor and privilege of my career,” Petersen said. “I am very grateful for the trust that Gov. Herbert placed in my office. I appreciate the opportunity I have had to collaborate with other state agencies and key stakeholders to create unique recreational opportunities that benefit every resident and visitor. Only good can result from our continued focus on growing the recreation economy throughout the state.”
Petersen is departing state government to be the chief operating officer of Patriot VUE (PatriotVUE.com), a high-tech startup that allows commercial building owners and operators to visualize their buildings energy consumption in real-time in order to identify energy savings opportunities. Petersen will assist in the transition as his successor is identified over the coming weeks.