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How marinas can benefit from BIG program funding

By Tom Mukamal

Boating is one of the more popular recreational activities in the world. In the United States alone, there are approximately 12 million registered boats to prove it, of which an estimated 560,000 are at least 26 feet long. When putting these numbers into perspective we begin to think of the incredible demand there is for marina operators to provide sufficient infrastructure to adequately accommodate recreational boaters in a safe and comfortable manner. The Boating Infrastructure Grant program was created with just that mind. The purpose of the program is to provide funding for the construction, renovation and maintenance of boating infrastructure facilities for transient vessels at least 26 feet in length that are used primarily for pleasure.

At IGY Marinas, we cater to vessels at least 80 feet long, many of which are leisure megayacht, sail, sportfish and cruise charters. The program serves as an outstanding resource –essential in the continued expansion of an already large portion of our market.

The BIG program benefits a number of projects, including:

  • Boat docks, slips and piers
  • Marine fuel stations
  • Restrooms and laundry facilities
  • Dredging
  • Shoreline stabilization

BIG program breakdown

Tier 1 of the program provides up to $200,000 for eligible projects to each U.S. state or territory. This tier is non-competitive nationally meaning that if a state/territory properly applies for the program, it will receive the funding. However, the state/territory may distribute these funds to projects at its discretion (competitive process, first come first serve, etc.).

Tier 2 is nationally competitive after the state/territory determines project eligibility based upon the grant application.  Tier 2 has historically awarded 8-12 projects annually, yielding up to $1.5 million per project.

Though applicants to the program may only include designated state agencies, public or private entities may partner with a state agency as a sub-grantee to apply. Many applications are actually initiated by marina operators or private developers looking to partner with state agencies. Applied Technology and Management, a leading marina design and engineering firm and subsidiary of IGY Marinas, has been at the forefront of this program having secured grants for IGY as well as a host of third party clients. In fact, ATM has been able to secure more than $16 million in BIG program awards to date, benefitting 24 projects.

The “BIG” picture

By working together, state agencies, as well as public and private agencies, can all positively impact our industry through the use of the BIG program. Infrastructure supported by the program encourages transient traffic, in turn bringing a significant economic boost to the region. Funding for the program comes from the Sportfish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, ultimately from excise taxes on things such marine fuels and fishing equipment. The program gives marina operators the chance to utilize these repurposed dollars, generated by the users themselves, to develop new infrastructure which can address boater desires for modern facilities and also to solve service and life safety problems created by aging marinas.

Tom Mukamal serves as CEO of IGY Marinas. For more information on IGY Marinas or its collection of marina destinations, visit www.IGYMarinas.com.

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