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The Great Outdoors and You, Be Part of the Bass Pro Shop Conversation

August 21, 2012

By Ben Collins, Chair, Economic Restructuring Committee.The Bristol Herald Courier recently published an article about how Bass Pro Shop's decision to come here reinforces our city's access to incredible outdoor opportunities as a "sellable" thing which can benefit you, the local business. We need to be sure that the 2 million people a year who are projected to come to Bass Pro Shop consider visiting downtown as part of the Bristol experience!

Here is my full response to the article:

Great article! And I am optimistic this is all part of Bristol's 21st century awakening and new relevance and distinct character in our great country. We should be proud of our hunting and outdoor treasures, just as we are proud of our music and arts.

As a community, we all need to work hard to ensure that all our local businesses and our historic downtown — our heart and soul — remain part of this rise into this new socioeconomic territory.

I certainly have hope that as people come to visit Bass Pro Shop, they consider visiting the rest of Bristol as part of that experience. As they decide to stay for a weekend, I hope they realize that we aren't going to be sustained by the retail jobs alone across the counter of the big box elite. Everyone needs to pull together to amplify the character and economy defined by ALL our local entrepreneurs — entrepreneurs like Steve Johnson. Like Bob and Alice Cheers. Like Ben Zandi, Michelle Dolan, Allen Hurley, Paul and Aulikki Brandt, Bethany Wilson, Ben Walls, just to name a few.

We can't allow our potential for prosperity to be eclipsed by powerful corporations simply taking advantage of all our beauty and possibility — we have to ensure we work as a team in parallel with them for both the new development of a special American Southern destination, but also the lifting up and rewarding of our homegrown businesses. As the water of change rises, let's make sure everyone looks around and locks arms — too many were drowned in the last half of the 20th century to forget.