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ABC is just the beginning

By Jonathan Sweet

Last week, hundreds of industry representatives gathered in Washington, D.C., for the annual American Boating Congress. It's a great chance to hear from policymakers and elected officials, as well as have our voices heard.

While it'd be great to have thousands of industry stakeholders descend on Washington for the legislative conference and hill visits, it can be tough to take the time (and money) away from the business at this hectic time of year.

But the good news is that while the work at ABC is important, it's just a small part of how we in the boating industry can shape public policy.

One of the best ways to keep up on what's going on is to sign up for BoatingUnited, the NMMA's grassroots effort.  Providing your address and contact info will allow the group to keep you informed of national and local issues that impact your business.

No lobbying effort is as effective as simply reaching out to your members of Congress and sharing with them the impact of boating on the national -- and your local and state -- economy. Invite them to your facility for an interview. Tell them how many people you employ and how many boats you build or slips you rent every summer.

Here are some of the key national stats, via NMMA: boating has a $121.5 total annual economic impact. We employ more than 330,000 people. More than 88 million adults -- 36.6 percent of the adult population -- went boating last year.

NMMA also has the same types of stats available, drilled down to the local level, that you can use in your efforts, as well.

As an industry, we also need to continue to correct the myth that boating is an activity for only the wealthy:  72 percent of boat owners have a household income of less than $100,000 and 95 percent of boats sold here in the United States are made in the United States. As Thom Dammrich said at ABC, “This is middle-class America enjoying a middle-class pastime, creating middle-class jobs for America."

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