Economic impact studies of N.C. waterways are sought

RALIEGH, N.C. – North Carolina’s Small Business and Technology Development Center’s Marine Trades Services, N.C. Sea Grant and other state organizations are working together to develop surveys to determine the economic impact of waterways activity in the state, according to a story in December’s NC Marine TradeWinds newsletter.

The organizations are seeking funding suggestions in order to lobby government officials and create the political pressure that drives funding.

“Not knowing the true economic impact of waterways activity in our coastal counties may be the Achilles Heel for growth in 20 or more coastal N.C. counties,” the story’s author wrote. “We know that N.C. sells just about half a billion dollars in boats and boating supplies each year, but we haven’t touched the much greater and more important role that boating plays in the economy of rural counties through boat manufacture, repair, sales, services and related boating tourism. And we can’t begin to do this until funding is provided for critical studies that are needed for dredging.”

The newsletter said studies conducted in seven waterfront counties in Florida qualified and quantified the current economic impact of boating, estimated the influence of waterways on property value, and then assessed the financial costs for failing to maintain the waterways for the boating population.

The studies found that in one Florida county the existing waterways impacts include $326.2 million in business volume, $123.5 million in personal income, 4,237 jobs, and $588 million in property values.

The expected impacts of the waterways assuming a cessation of waterways maintenance showed a decrease of: $177.8 million in business volume, $64.1 million in personal income, 2,209 jobs, and $292 million in property value.

The newsletter reported that North Carolina would receive $4.1 million plus $8.2 million for maintenance dredging for its two ports and funding to maintain the Dismal Swamp Canal for navigation in 2005. The boating industry in the state has over 20,000 employees, 3,500 marine business, 350,000 voting boat owners and an almost unknown economic impact for its waterways.

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