Employees from across all sectors of the U.S. recreational boating industry are gathering on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC for the annual American Boating Congress (ABC) to advocate on behalf of the industry’s 350,000 workers and 82 million boaters.
With the unofficial start to boating season just over a month away on Memorial Day weekend, ABC gives members of the U.S. recreational boating industry a platform to meet with legislators and other decision makers on Capitol Hill, hear from prominent economic and political speakers and participate all while meeting with colleagues from around the country. The two-day event allows the industry to communicate on Capitol Hill the industry’s $72 billion annual economic impact on the U.S. economy, Americans’ longstanding appreciation for U.S. waterways, and some of the priority issues facing recreational boating.
“Whether it’s that boating is a uniquely American manufacturing industry with 83 percent of boats sold in the U.S., made in the U.S. or that three out of four boat owners having an annual household income less than $100,000 — we have an important story to tell,” notes Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), one of 12 co-host organizations for ABC.
“Sharing our story on Capitol Hill this week 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 who make up recreational boating and the positive impact we have 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 oral arguments recently heard by a panel of three judges of U.S. Court of Appeals on NMMA’s challenge to the EPA Waiver allowing the sale of E15, as well as a new strategic partnership between NMMA and the commerce department, encouraging import/export initiatives.
Prominent speakers addressing areas of interest for the U.S. recreational boating industry include:
Jon Jarvis, Director for the National Park Service — Director Jarvis will address the importance of water access in Biscayne National Park and the recently proposed General Management plan, threatening to close access to boaters and anglers.
Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) — Rep. Harris will speak to legislation that would allow the introduction of E15 into our country’s fuel supply and what the industry can do to help stop this potentially dangerous legislation that would create severe damage to marine engines.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) – Sen. Whitehouse will discuss why recreational fishing and boating on U.S. oceans and Great Lakes are economic drivers for the country, and how access to their bounty is absolutely necessary.
Francisco J. Sanchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade — Sanchez will discuss the New Marketing Export Initiative (NMEI), with which NMMA is a strategic partner.
Neil Newhouse, Public Opinion Strategies — Newhouse will offer an analysis of the upcoming 2012 elections and provide a political forecast for the year.
Greg Ip, U.S. Economics Editor, The Economist — Following a well-received address during last year’s ABC, Ip will address ongoing economic changes and how they may affect the recreational boating industry.
ABC is co-hosted by the National Marine Manufacturers Association, Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, Center for Coastal Conservation, South Carolina Marine Association, National Marine Distributors Association, Boy Scouts of America/Sea Scouts, Boating Trades Association of Metropolitan Houston, U.S. Superyacht Association, Association of Marina Industries, Michigan Boating Industries Association, National Marine Bankers Association, American Boat Builders & Repairers Association, and the States Organization for Boating Access.