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Hartford show returns in late January

The economic impact of the recreational boating business in Connecticut will be a focus at the Hartford Boat Show.

The economic impact of the recreational boating business in Connecticut will be the focus of the Jan. 28 opening day program at the Hartford Boat Show.

Sponsored by Evinrude and produced by the Connecticut Marine Trades Association, the show will run from Jan. 28-31 at the Connecticut Convention Center and will feature more than 250 boats and exhibitors.

Organizers said opening day events will be highlighted by the CMTA's annual sponsorship award ceremony and scholarship presentation, as well as a career opportunity fair, author book signings, paddle sport demonstrations in the Paddler's Paradise Demo Pool and several seminars.

The CMTA said annual retail sales of new boats, engines, accessories and services account for more than $136 million in Connecticut and support 537 businesses across the state. There are an estimated 101,887 recreational boats in the state; 85 percent are powerboats, 10 percent are personal watercraft and 5 percent are sailboats.

"The business of boating in Connecticut supports a workforce of 7,500 employees whose lives depend upon people buying, storing, servicing and caring for boats throughout the state," CMTA executive director Kathleen Burns said in a statement. "This is not just a high-end boat or [Long Island] Sound-dominated business, as many would think, but one which flourishes in all corners of Connecticut.”

The 2016 exhibitors represent the largest expansion in the diversity of products in the show's 47-year history, Burns said.

"The marine trades business in Connecticut is a segment which has not gone 'big box'," she said. "The mainstay of the whole industry is small businesses that are largely based in working waterfronts that anchor and distinctively characterize our small communities. About 95 percent of our exhibitors are classified as small-business; many are family-owned and even generational, with 94 being Connecticut-based.”

Now in its fifth year, the CMTA Scholarship Program annually awards scholarships to qualified member employees and their family members to further industry-related educational pursuits.

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