FORT LAUDERDALE – Not even a recession could hold back this year’s International Marina & Boatyard Conference IMBC), which has seen steady growth since being founded as the National Marina and Boatyard Conference and Exposition in 2002.
IMBC, which ran Jan. 25-28 at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center, attracted a record 650 total participants, according to an interview with Jim Frye, president and chair of the Association of Marina Industries (AMI). The event is co-produced by AMI and the American Boat Builders & Repairers Association.
Four hundred of the participants were marina and boatyard owners and employees, while the remaining 250 consisted of exhibitors and sponsors. The event featured 125 booths and drew in more sponsorship dollars than ever before, according to Frye. Last year, there were 508 attendees at the show, 110 exhibitors and 581 total participants.
Frye attributed the growth to “the resiliency of the marina segment” and the willingness of those who participated “to make an investment in themselves and their businesses.”
In addition, organizers went to new heights to attract participants, including discounts on travel expenses like airfare and rental cars and conveniences like conference materials on USBs and the option to purchase one-day passes, as well as the addition of speakers on timely topics, like the economy.
NMD Marina of the Year Award handed out
During IMBC, Harborage Yacht Club and Marina of Stuart, Fla. was awarded this year’s National Marina Day (NMD), Marina of the Year award.
Harborage Yacht Club and Marina best exemplified the intent of National Marina Day as a time to celebrate the value of marinas as gateways to our nation’s waters, and to recognize the role that marina managers play as stewards of the environment, according to AMI.
In celebration of NMD, Harborage Yacht Club and Marina held an all day event that included tours of their facility, an in-water boat show, and dozens of land displays by area boat builders, yacht brokers and other marine-related organizations and businesses. The marina also encouraged their county commissioners and the City of Stuart to issue a proclamation declaring the day National Marina day in Martin County, AMI reported.
“The deciding factor on choosing Harborage was their effective use of the media to remind everyone of the importance of marinas and boating to the area’s economy and to their recreation. In every press release and interview given, the Harborage staff made sure the value of marine industries was in the forefront,” said Michael Shanley, chairman of the National Marina Day Committee.
Besides receiving a plaque and recognition for their efforts, the marina will also be the site of the kick-off event for National Marina Day 2009, to be held Saturday, Aug. 8.
“This recognition is due in large measure to the outstanding support provided by the areas boat brokers and dealers, local marina trade association, community groups and organizations that endeavor in the area of marine activity, and marine related business owners who are committed to educating the public as to the significance and importance of our marine industries,” said Gary Guertin, manager of the marina. “We look forward to hosting NMD 2009.”
Harborage Yacht Club and Marina is located on the St. Lucie River offering direct access to the Intracoastal Waterway, Lake Okeechobee and the Atlantic Ocean. It is a full-service facility with 300 slips and a three-story yacht club. For more information on the marina, visit www.harborageyachtclub.com.
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