By Christine Gianas Weinheimer
Every visit to Yellowstone National Park begins in a gateway community, and most of Yellowstone’s millions of annual visitors do more than simply pass through. They depend on the restaurants, lodging, and other services provided in the communities surrounding the park. In doing so they also help keep these businesses thriving.
Last year, Yellowstone visitors spent nearly $500 million in communities near the park—such as Big Sky and Livingston, Montana; and Cody and Jackson, Wyoming—and supported more than 7,000 jobs.
Yellowstone Forever, the official nonprofit partner of Yellowstone National Park, created the Gateway Business Partners program to encourage businesses to be stewards of Yellowstone by joining a diverse regional network of like-minded companies.
“Many businesses and their employees have chosen to create lives in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem because of its unparalleled access to public lands,” explained Daniel Bierschwale, director of gateway partnerships for Yellowstone Forever. “The Gateway Business Partners program offers assorted benefits while helping preserve the region’s economic vitality attributed to Yellowstone.”
Gateway businesses can demonstrate their commitment to the world’s first national park by becoming a partner at their chosen stewardship level. The funds they donate are invested in the preservation of the ecosystem that fuels the statewide economies of Greater Yellowstone.
“Nearly every business in the Greater Yellowstone region is influenced in some positive way by Yellowstone National Park,” said Paul Robertson, general manager of Sage Lodge. The Paradise Valley resort, located just north of the park, has been a Gateway Partner since before opening its doors this summer. “Whether the impact is a direct driver of commerce, or a driver of quality of life for themselves and their employees, Yellowstone Park shapes our daily lives at work and in our communities.”
In addition to the economic and lifestyle benefits of doing business in close proximity to Yellowstone, many Gateway Partners say the program aligns perfectly with their company’s core ethics and values.
“Oboz was actually inspired by the very place we live, work, and play, including the park itself and all the surrounding lands,” said Christian Mason, vice president of sales and marketing for Bozeman, Montana-based Oboz Footwear. “It was an easy decision to support the park as a business partner and neighbor. We wanted give back and help the park’s mission into the future—for visitors and wildlife, too.”
At the entry level of $500, Gateway Business Partners receive a window-cling to display at their business and an exclusive invitation to the pre-season Yellowstone training hosted by Yellowstone Forever. At higher supporter levels, benefits may include access to Yellowstone maps for customer distribution, and business recognition on the digital honor wall at Old Faithful, bear boxes in campgrounds, or Yellowstone Forever’s website.
“Gateway Partners have an opportunity to preserve the heritage of Yellowstone National Park—the heartbeat of this ecosystem,” Bierschwale said. “In addition to helping fund park priorities, businesses can demonstrate their support of the park and promote stewardship. This will become essential as new generations experience the park and visitation grows.”
To learn more or become a Gateway Business member of Yellowstone Forever, visit yellowstone.org.