Industry launches economic impact measurement tool

CHICAGO – Several organizations within the U.S. recreational boating industry unveiled this week the Online Boating Economic Impact Tool, the nation’s only Web-based means for estimating the economic impact of marinas across the country. An interactive system designed to understand boater spending and provide estimates of the overall economic impact existing and planned marinas can have on a local, regional and national level, the tool can also be used to estimate the impact of the potential loss of marinas, something the industry hopes will aid in the battle against the loss of water access.

The Recreational Marine Research Center developed and maintains the tool on behalf of the Association of Marina Industries, Great Lakes Commission, National Marine Manufacturers Association and the United States Coast Guard. It can be accessed at no charge at www.MarinaEconomics.com.

“For the very first time, this innovative tool allows marinas across the country to produce information that verifies their direct and indirect economic impact,” said Dr. Ed Mahoney, Director of RMRC. “In addition to the organizations and agencies involved, more than 800 marina operators and 10,000 recreational boaters contributed their time to provide the data required to develop the tool’s economic models.”

Those involved in the development say that the tool was designed to be convenient and easy to use so visitors to the site can immediately obtain information about specific marinas or groupings of marinas (e.g. in a harbor) such as estimates on boater spending and associated economic impact. It can also be used to estimate the economic impact of boat access/launch sites, and all registered powerboats and sailboats in a designated region.

The tool is also able to estimate local impacts such as jobs, sales, income and the added value associated with the ownership (e.g. craft spending) and use (e.g. trip spending) of different types of recreational boats, to produce a customized report.

“Assessing and showcasing the economic impact of individual marinas is crucial to the continued growth of the recreational boating industry and the boating public’s ability to enjoy time on the water,” said Alex Laidlaw, CMM, Chairman of AMI. “With National Marina Day on August 11, we strongly encourage all marina facilities to use the device to educate their elected officials, community leaders and the general public to prove just how important it is to maintain and grow water access in each and every region across the U.S.”

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Unlike any existing information available, the tool provides scientifically derived estimates of the spending, income, and employment impacts of marinas on a local economy. This information, previously untracked, is expected to add value to decisions concerning marina permitting and expansion made by local governments around the country.

“It’s critical to boaters that communities provide sufficient marinas or other convenient points of water access,” said Dave Knight, Transportation Program Manager for GLC. “In the Great Lakes region, we’re excited to put this new tool to use to help us demonstrate the economic growth potential marinas have in our communities.”

By illustrating the economic value of marinas and boating access facilities to communities, the tool provides economic justification for the need to preserve and promote marina development versus alternative non-water dependent uses.

“The most significant application of this new tool is its ability to showcase the vital role marinas, and the boaters they service, play in the economic prosperity of communities which surround them,” said Thom Dammrich, NMMA President. “More than 73 million people went boating in 2006; in order for more people to enjoy the great benefits of recreational boating, adequate access and support facilities must be available; this tool helps document just how significant the economic impacts of marinas are to local communities in addition to the great social benefits of recreational boating.”

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