Like many citizens, nonprofits and businesses, REI engages in public policy dialogues that affect our future. Our goal is to shape federal and state policy in a way that better enables us to pursue the co-op’s core purpose and allows us to stay competitive in a rapidly evolving retail marketplace.
Generally speaking, we get involved in two types of policy matters. First, government policy can have a significant impact on public access to and enjoyment of parks, trails, waterways and other natural places where people enjoy outdoor recreation. Here, we work with partners and government officials to ensure that as the public policy landscape evolves, our members, customers and employees are always able to pursue the outdoor activities they enjoy.
Second, we work on public policy matters that impact the daily business operations of what has come to be known as the outdoor recreation economy. Across the nation, thousands of businesses, large and small, make their livelihood by helping people to get outdoors and enjoy the natural environment. Some of these businesses design and sell gear and apparel. Others provide guide services, travel services and lodging. At REI, we pursue policy outcomes that support the success of this business sector.
As REI grows, we recognize that the co-op’s success is more closely intertwined with policy developments. So in 2011, we hired a full-time government relations director. The co-op’s government affairs program also relies on engagement by REI leaders and by political and policy consultants in Washington, D.C., the Monument Policy Group.
We also belong to several trade associations that have their own government affairs operations. We work actively with the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) to advance the policy agenda of recreation economy businesses, both with respect to public lands and operational issues. For issues that specifically affect retailers, we participate in some of the policy initiatives driven by the Retail Industry Leaders Association. And in Washington state, where we are headquartered, we are members of the Washington Retail Association.
Like many companies with government affairs programs, we also regularly partner with nonprofits, coalitions and other associations on different issues and in different venues depending on the topic. The Outdoor Alliance and Bikes Belong are just two examples of these types of organizations. The former represents avid outdoors enthusiasts, who try to assure their access to unique climbing, kayaking, white water rafting and other adventurous places. Bikes Belong works on policies and supports programs that make bicycling both safer and a more viable mode of transportation.
The bulk of REI's efforts in 2011 were focused on a handful of initiatives. Most policy initiatives take quite some time to play out given the push and pull of the democratic process. While we feel we continue to make headway, each of our major efforts remains a work in progress.
In terms of protecting parks, waterways and trails—and promoting greater access to them—we:
To assure REI’s product development and retail operations remain competitive in an intensely competitive marketplace, in 2011 we:
Federal and state laws require REI to file forms describing certain, more detailed aspects of our work on policy matters. These disclosures are updated on a regular basis. We believe the most useful tools for tracking the data are:
With respect to financing campaigns for public office, REI as a company makes no contributions either directly to candidates or indirectly via Super PACs. REI employees and executives may choose to make personal contributions to political campaigns. In addition, the OIA operates a political action committee, and eligible REI employees may make contributions to it. At both the federal and state levels, there are systems in place that capture and disclose information about campaign contributions. In our view, the best tools for tracking that data are:
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