Hunters deliver big bang for local economy
Hunting is a tradition intertwined into the lives of many Minnesotans and before they hit the slough, field or forest, those hunters have a substantial economic impact in the state.
Representatives from Hunting Works for Minnesota (HWFM) were in Alexandria last week meeting with local stakeholders in hunting-related businesses and groups.
Bruce Nustad, co-chair of HWFM, explained that HWFM is a grassroots organization that promotes the role hunting and shooting sports play in both the heritage and economic health of Minnesota. The group monitors public policy decisions and weighs in on hunting-related issues that impact Minnesota jobs. The group's membership consists of businesses representing a cross-section of Minnesota's economy - everything from hotels and convenience stores to restaurants and chambers of commerce.
Nustad, who is also president of the Minnesota Retailers Association, shared a variety of statistics and facts about the economic impact of hunting, including these:
--477,000 people hunt in Minnesota each year. Of those, 20,000 are from out-of-state.
--Hunters spend $235 million annually in trip-related expenditures.
--Each hunter spends an average of $1,500 per year in Minnesota.
--Hunting in Minnesota creates more than 12,400 jobs in the state.
--Hunters pay $94 million in state and local taxes.
--$733 million is spent annually by hunters.
--Hunter spending translates to $418 million in salaries and wages.
When asked what he hopes people will walk away with after his presentation, Nustad said, "I hope they have a couple of nuggets relative to why hunting and shooting sports are important to our economy and I hope they're willing to share a few of those to keep the story moving.
"Hunters contribute to our local economy through economic activity by buying things resulting in the tax dollars that come out of that," Nustad said. "Transactions are important to our restaurants, hotels, sporting shops and ultimately they're important to our roads and bridges and education system."
There are about 275 HWFM members across the state. Locally, members include businesses and organizations like Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, Autumn Antlers of Long Prairie and Custom Wingbones by Durk.
"Hunting Works for Minnesota provides Alexandria-area businesses an opportunity to grow their relationships with the hunting and shooting sports community," said Coni McKay, executive director of the Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce. "Furthering the economic interests of Alexandria businesses is our priority and we are proud to be associated with Hunting Works for Minnesota."
HWFM is a nonpartisan, nonpolitical organization. The group notes in its literature that politically motivated anti-hunting groups are growing and many would like to limit, make more expensive or ban hunting, and "all this is occurring at a time when hunter numbers are declining, and quite frankly, many of our rural communities and businesses will not survive if hunter numbers continue to erode."