CONWAY — Business attorney and Granite Backcountry Alliance founder Tyler Ray has opened his own legal, consulting and advocacy business, Backyard Concept LLC, focusing on the emerging outdoor recreation sector of the economy.
Based in Conway with an office at Tech Village Business Center, Backyard Concept is also announcing its first major client, Granite Backcountry Alliance, a non-profit organization with the mission is to rehabilitate old backcountry ski trails, create new ones and generally promote the sport of backcountry skiing.
Backyard Concept has been hired by the alliance to manage the day-to-day operations of the organization following Ray’s recent resignation as its president.
Founding board member and Maple Villa Glade Chief Rick Jenkinson has been as elected by the board to be the new alliance president.
Board members decided it was time to hire a professional management company because of the rapid growth of the organization since it was founded three years ago and the need for continued management of existing and future glade projects.
Ray, who lives in North Conway, said in a press release announcing his new business that the goal for Backyard Concept is “to responsibly accelerate, mobilize, and empower the outdoor recreation movement in New Hampshire and northern New England as a vehicle for economic development in rural communities.”
It’s a goal that Ray has also pursued as the leader of the alliance, developing nearly a dozen new backcountry skiing locations, and promoting the sport with festivals and events at Black Mountain and other ski areas.
Backyard Concept allows Ray to expand that vision to other recreational opportunities.
By leveraging the natural assets of an area for economic vibrancy through development of trails and other recreational infrastructure, he says, the concept is to attract those interested in living experience-driven lifestyles to these areas. The result is an outdoor ecosystem of like-minded businesses and individuals who use public lands and water in their daily lives.
Backyard Concept will draw on Ray’s 15 years of business law experience by working with legal clients to support the outdoor recreation sector through business transactions, real estate development and conservation efforts.
Ray’s advocacy and consulting work will focus on advisory services, including strategic planning, project implementation, event management and fundraising, as well as grant writing and media-related management services.
Prospective clients include corporations, municipalities, individuals, land trusts, non-profits, and others. Ray is intent on finding new ways to rethink infrastructure related to trail access and tourism, trail-based funding initiatives, and mobilizing New Hampshire outdoor businesses, all to further establish a strong foundation to support the growing movement.
Nationally, outdoor recreation emerged as a powerful economic engine in 2018 and contributed $887 billion of consumer spending to the national gross domestic product, the fourth largest sector of the economy. In New Hampshire, those numbers include $8.7 billion in consumer spending and 79,000 jobs.
Nearly half of all Americans participate in some form of outdoor recreation each year. As residents or visitors continue to seek experiences outdoors, they continue to purchase new gear, travel to communities, camp or stay in hotels, frequent breweries, restaurants and coffee shops, ultimately infusing capital into local, state and national economies.
These like-minded pieces blend together to create a sustainable, organic economy, known as the “outdoor economy,” all of which will be the centerpiece of Ray’s new business endeavor.
“The outdoor economy is organic to the areas in which we live, and it can truly have a positive impact on local rural economies,” said Ray. “It’s a departure from the old, industrial way of constructing mill-based communities. It’s about leveraging natural resources responsibly to create vibrant, supportive, and healthy local economies — places where people don’t just want to go, but they want to live.”
Ray is a native of Bridgton, Maine, and attended Lake Region High School. He has worked in a variety of professional occupations, from legislative affairs in the U.S. Senate in Washington, DC, to in-house counsel for a publicly traded company on the London Stock Exchange, to corporate attorney in private practice outside of Boston as well as in North Conway with Cooper Cargill Chant.
Ray obtained his undergraduate degree from Hobart College majoring in political science. He attended Roger Williams University School of Law and secured his MBA from Bryant University School of Business, both located in Rhode Island.