More than 250 business leaders from across all sectors of the U.S. recreational boating industry are gathering on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. today to kick off the annual American Boating Congress (ABC), a three day advocacy event.
With the unofficial start to boating season just under a month away on Memorial Day weekend, ABC gives members of the U.S. recreational boating industry a timely platform to meet with legislators and other decision makers on Capitol Hill, hear from prominent economic and political speakers all while meeting with colleagues from around the country.
Segments of the industry attending ABC include boat, engine and marine accessory manufacturers, boat dealers, distributors and retailers, marine lenders and banks, members of the fishing industry, marinas, trade organizations, government groups, publishers from marine industry media, and boat owners.
Recreational boating is no small contributor to the U.S. economy. During the three-day event industry stakeholders will communicate on Capitol Hill the significance of our industry’s $121 billion annual direct, indirect and induced economic impact in addition to the priority issues facing recreational boating. Recreational boating supports more than 650,000 direct and indirect jobs and nearly 35,000 businesses nationwide. In fact, with summer upon us, an estimated 87 million Americans are expected to take to the water in the U.S.. What’s more, 72% of boat owners earn a household income of less than $100,000, making recreational boating a decidedly middle class activity.
“Whether it’s that boating is a uniquely American manufacturing industry with 95 percent of boats sold in the U.S., made in the U.S. or the sheer number of jobs and small busineses supported by boating, we have an important story to tell,” notes Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). “Sharing our story on Capitol Hill during ABC is a critical element of our industry’s advocacy efforts and will go a long way toward an accurate understanding of the middle-class Americans creating a positive impact across the country.”
While meeting with policy makers, ABC attendees will also address some of the more pressing issues facing boaters and the U.S. boating industry including the Renewable Fuel Standard and E15, corporate tax reform and its affect on small businesses, aquatic invasive species and how the industry is responding, as well as many other legislative and regulatory concerns. A total of twelve concurrent issues workshops will be held during this year’s conference, each covering a different priority area affecting a specific industry segment.
Prominent speakers addressing areas of interest for the U.S. recreational boating industry include a keynote address from David Gregory, former NBC Meet the Press moderator as well as: Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-1), Congressman Curt Clawson (FL-19), Mayor Tomas Regalado, City of Miami, Rear Admiral Paul Thomas, U. S. Coast Guard and Eileen Sobek, Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).