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At the Helm: Your advocacy matters

By Jonathan Sweet

What is your top challenge in your business?

Tracking down more business? Acquiring the capital to grow? Finding and keeping great employees?

Whatever it is, there’s a very good a chance that you can find a government or regulatory issue at its core.

Sure, there are societal and economic reasons that boating has declined in popularity from its peak, but regulatory issues pose a challenge as well. Just take a look at our monthly survey on p. 20.

To consider just a few examples, access and fishing restrictions are making it more difficult to boat in many states and national parks; misfueling and other challenges related to ethanol has resulted in increased damage to boat engines; CARB rules and other emission regulations are raising the cost of buying engines.

As people who make our livelihood from boating, we have a choice: whine about it or do something about it.

And that’s where advocacy efforts come in. One of the best ways to advance the industry’s issues and your company’s concerns is to attend the American Boating Congress — and we’ve got a preview of this year’s conference starting on p. 22. If you can be there, I urge you to do so and make sure your voice is heard on Capital Hill.

But I’m also a realist and know that is not an option for everyone. It’s not an inexpensive trip. It’s also at a very busy time of year, especially for those of us in the northern half of the country.

That doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference. Contact your local member of the U.S. House of Representatives or state legislature. Invite them to your plant or marina. Show them what you do and how many people you employ. Share your thoughts on the issues. Explain why, for example, limiting access to public waters is bad for the industry and the local economy.

One thing I’ve learned in the years I’ve been attending ABC and other industry events is that many people working in Washington have almost no understanding of our industry. That’s not hyperbole. I actually mean they have a near zero understanding of what we’re about, especially if they’re not from a big boating state, like a Florida or a Minnesota.

But I’ve also learned that many of them do want to learn, and as a business owner, you have a very good chance of getting them to listen to you.

So even if you can’t make it to ABC this year, take advantage of the resources of NMMA, MRAA, ASA, Boating United and a wealth of other industry groups and reach out to policymakers.

It’s the least you can do if you care about the future of your business.

 

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