Pushing for politics

Marine industry trade associations are sending a clear message to their members: “Let’s get political.”
“You wouldn’t leave it to a competitor or others to manage your production line, to manage your dealers or distribution network, or to manage your marketing. Why then, do people leave it to competitors and others to manage legislator and regulator relationships?” asks Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association.
One way NMMA has worked to accomplish this is by growing its annual legislative event, the American Boating Congress. The number of registered attendees at this year’s event was up 15 percent from last year to 225, and the sponsorship dollars raised for the event was up this year from $35,000 last year to $81,500.
Even more dramatic, however, is the increase in money raised for its Political Action Committee fund. In 2002, NMMA raised $59,000 in PAC funds, while the association had collected $141,845 so far this year as of the end of May.
Educating legislators
The Association of Marina Industries is also trying to raise its members’ political IQ.
It’s trying to turn its members’ celebrations of National Marina Day into more than just customer appreciation days.
During the fourth-annual event, scheduled for August 13, AMI is hoping marina operators “also invite local elected officials down to their facilities to see all the economic activity at a marina,” says Stephen Wakefield, the association’s manager of State Government Relations and Outreach.
With new state legislators being sworn in every year, the importance of educating these officials on the positive role marinas play in their communities is constant.
One tool that may help AMI boost their members’ political involvement is the recently launched National Marina Economic Impact Study, the results of which will demonstrate the national, state and local economic impact of U.S marinas.
“The study will give us a clearer picture of where we stand now and a baseline from which we can say, ‘Look, if this bill passes, X number of dollars will come out of the industry,’” explains Wakefield.
Meanwhile, participation in National Marina Day continues to grow. Last year’s event was celebrated by 256 marinas, and as of the end of May, AMI was tracking 277 celebrations. The association’s 2005 goal is 300.

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