Tom Smart, Deseret Morning News
August's Outdoor Retailers Convention is seen in Salt Lake. The winter counterpart kicked off at Snowbasin and starts officially today at the Salt Palace.

The Outdoor Retailer Winter Market Tradeshow kicked off Tuesday at Snowbasin — perhaps another sign of Ogden's emergence in the outdoor recreation industry.

Snowbasin hosted a pre-show for buyers and the media before the show's official beginning today at the Salt Palace.

The pre-show featured product demonstrations and hands-on displays of winter recreation equipment at the ski resort outside of the northern Utah city that has become the home to companies such as Amer Sports (which owns several brands, including Salomon), Descente, Goode Ski Technologies and Smith Sport Optics.

In the past, the pre-show of the convention has been at Salt Lake-area resorts: Alta, Brighton and Solitude. But local organizers of the convention pushed to have the pre-show moved to Ogden this year, and the Outdoor Industry Association trade group, based in Boulder, Colo., approved.

Ogden businesses "are really proud and they wanted their peers to see the area," said Scott Beck, president and chief executive officer of the Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau. "(Locals) think an hour is a long way, but in the grand scope, it's a real easy ride."

About 17,000 people representing winter outdoor gear manufacturers, retailers and suppliers will converge in Utah for the convention, which continues through Saturday.

The winter convention is expected to contribute $15 million to Salt Lake City, based on research by the University of Utah's Bureau of Economic and Business Research, which found in 2007 that an average convention attendee spent $889 during a three-day stay.

Hotels, restaurants and local attractions will get most of the business.

Statewide, the outdoor recreation industry provides or supports 65,000 jobs and contributes $5.8 billion to the state's economy, including nearly $300 million in state tax revenues.

With $4 billion in annual retail sales and services, the outdoor recreation industry comprises 4 percent of Utah's gross state product, according to the Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau.

About 160 million Americans — more than half of the country's 300 million population — participate in outdoor recreation activities, from camping and hunting to hiking and boating, the bureau estimates.

"This month is the 10th winter market," Beck said. "And we just celebrated our 10th summer market, and we're looking forward to our 11th summer market this August."

The convention originally met in Reno in a hotel ballroom, but Salt Lake business leaders convinced the Outdoor Industry Association to move it to Salt Lake City.

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