The great outdoors is great for business, as local and national retailers have learned.

The great outdoors is great for business, as local and national retailers have learned.

According to the Outdoor Industry Association trade group, Americans spend $646 billion on outdoor recreation annually, which generates 6.1 million jobs as well as $39.9 billion in federal and $39.7 billion in state and local tax revenue.

We spend more only on financial services and insurance ($780 billion) and health care ($767 billion), OIA reports; Americans spend nearly double the dollars on outdoor recreation as we do on automobiles ($340 billion) and pharmaceuticals ($331 billion).

Recreation is an important pursuit for many Central Ohioans, even more so with the addition of numerous local parks and bike trails in recent years. Both local and national retailers are taking advantage of the opportunity.

Cabela's recently opened a store at Polaris (just try to find a parking spot on the weekend), and REI is buildingat Easton Town Center.Independents such as Clintonville Outfitters and the Outdoor Source are doing well, too, and are expanding to better serve their customers.

Reporter Kitty McConnell talked to outdoor enthusiasts and retailers alike about this booming business. One concern is whether the market can sustain the pace of growth. Find out more in "Outdoor Opportunities" on page 22.

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If your employer is an overall standout-or a top performer in health care-we have two opportunities to earn some recognition.

First, nominations are being taken through Sept. 20 for the 2014 Top Workplaces awards, a partnership between Columbus CEO, WBNS-10TV and research organization WorkplaceDynamics LLP. In its second year, the program aims to recognize organizations that stand out in the crowd, treat their employees well and foster a great environment.

Employees at any level of an organization may submit a nomination. WorkplaceDynamics will contact all nominees for permission to survey workers. There is no cost to participate.Winners will be announced in the May issue.

To submit a nomination, go to

Also, the nomination window is now open for our second Health Care Achievement Awards, which recognize outstanding Central Ohio health-care professionals and organizations who are making a difference in the lives of their patients, colleagues and community.

Learn more about the awards on page 36, then go to to make a nomination. All completed nomination forms must be received by Oct. 15.