MRAA asks feds to help thaw credit freeze

CHICAGO – The Marine Retailers Association of America sent a letter this week to Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr. of the Department of the Treasury and Chairman Ben S. Bernanke of the Federal Reserve Board requesting their support to thaw the credit freeze on dealer floor plans and consumer boat loans, it reported in a statement yesterday.

The request was for support for financial relief to help customers obtain financing so they can purchase boats and to help the dealers so that they can purchase inventory. MRAA said the credit freeze is having a severe adverse impact on the marine retail business with sales of new boats down 38 percent this year from the already depressed levels of 2007.

The letter described the financial struggles of the MRAA members, ranging from the manufacturers and the dealers to their suppliers, and emphasized the marine industry’s national economic impact.

“As a result of the downturn, boat manufacturers have closed dozens of plants, idled many more, and fired thousands of workers,” MRAA explained. “Boat dealers are starting to close operations and hundreds of others have laid off over 25 percent of their workers. MRAA members are victims of falling sales that have resulted from tight credit markets. Americans with sound credit histories simply can’t find financing for their purchase.”

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