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The Future of Outdoor Startup Communities

Gunnison is at the forefront of outdoor industry startups. What was once a small ranching town has become the new frontier for recreational opportunities in our outdoor startup communities. With over two million acres of public land, 750+ miles of single track, and the famous terrain of Crested Butte Resort, Gunnison County has enough recreation to last a lifetime. This landscape has become the land of opportunity for entrepreneurs looking to build authentic outdoor brands. Although Gunnison is surrounded by 4 major mountain ranges there is more than just the accessibility to recreational activities that is driving this outdoor entrepreneurial wave. The ICELab is Gunnison County’s startup and business resource center which is leading this wave of outdoor startups.


Having resources like the ICELab has allowed us to stay productive while enjoying all of the recreation surrounding the valley. – Craig Payne

Craig is the founder of Hustle Bike Labs and a participant of the 2019 Outdoor Accelerator hosted by the ICELab. After a successful national accelerator program in 2019, all 3 outdoor companies are seeing significant growth in business, and 2 of them relocated to Colorado. The ICELab has again partnered with Moosejaw Mountaineering for another Outdoor Accelerator, this time focused on diversity and inclusion in the outdoor industry.

As the outdoor industry continues to grow at a staggering pace, many recreational communities are following suit chasing the status of outdoor startup communities. Bentonville, Arkansas is rooted in the heart of the Ozark Mountains and has become a recreational paradise for the southern midwest. Chandler Abbott leads the WeWork Labs in Bentonville which aims to build outdoor startup companies similar to the ICELab. Through business accelerator and incubator programs, Bentonville is looking to capitalize on industry growth while enabling its local entrepreneurs to be successful. Currently, the Gunnison ICElab and Bentonville WeWork Labs have partnered to provide their members with space trade availability. This allows members of both coworking spaces to utilize the facilities at either location. As mountain town communities continue to grow, partnerships between sister cities will become ever more prevalent. To learn more about the WeWorks Lab in Bentonville and their future projects Listen to this Outdoor Dream Job Podcast.

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