Supporting Rural Intermountain Communities with Strategic Development and Solutions-Based Research

Reframing Economic Creativity, Resilience, and Environmental Accountability Through Engagement

Communities in the Rural Intermountain West are at a turning point. While they are known for their resourcefulness, grit, and deep connection to the landscapes which have sustained them for generations, the stories about these communities are rapidly changing. Rural mountain communities, built by immigrants and migrant workers, historically relied upon extractive industries such as mining, ranching, and forestry as the foundations of their economies. Today, these rural economies are largely reliant on tourism, outdoor recreation, real estate investment, and other forms of capital brought in from outside the region. While historically continue relying on extractive boom and bust industries, we believe diversifying their economies with resilient and sustaining alternatives will support communities on this journey. We seek strategic development backed by solution-based research that builds up stakeholders and communities for a stronger and more vibrant tomorrow.

The RECREATE Institute leverages Western’s School of Business, located in Gunnison, CO, to provide thought leadership, research, education, and partnerships for the renewal of resilient, inclusive, and sustainable rural economies in the Rural Intermountain West.

Join us in creating resilient and inclusive economies that meet the challenges of the Rural Intermountain West for a more prosperous future.

What We Do

Our Scope

We focus on rural communities and economies in the Intermountain West that are defined by small town character, plentiful outdoor activities, transitioning extractive economies, and aspirational economic development planning. 

Our Areas of Focus
  • Access, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Outdoor Industry

  • Responsible and Sustainable Business Practices

  • Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital in Mountain Communities

  • Authentic Leadership

  • Economic Transitions in Rural Mountain Communities

Our Work Includes:
  • Analysis of opportunities for economic diversification in product development and innovation.

  • Case study research to better understand how the outdoor industry impacts rural economies, both in services and products.

  • Analysis of the relationship between rural wealth, small business development, and quality of life.

  • Student engagement and competitions that support and inspire mountain lifestyles.

  • Research on start-up needs for capital and the venture capital that are unique to rural mountain communities.

  • Circular economic activities in remote locations.