Ohio Governor responds to marine industry

A successful appeal allows builders to stay open, with exceptions
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It was late at night last weekend as the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association, the Boating Association of Ohio and their lobbying partner — Government Advantage Group — crafted their appeal to Governor Mike DeWine to designate Ohio’s recreational boating businesses as “essential” in his pending order for additional statewide business closures.

“Governor DeWine listened to us,” said an excited LEMTA chairman and South Shore Marine (Huron, Oh.) founder Tom Mack in announcing the governor’s positive decision, “and we are genuinely grateful for his recognition of the importance of the marine industry here.”

In the all-out effort to halt the spread of the coronavirus, on Sunday DeWine ordered all businesses and operations in the state, except “essential businesses and operations,” to cease all activities.

How did it all come about? “It was a team effort,” explains Michelle Burke, LEMTA president and BAO executive director. “We worked with members of our executive committee to carefully define the key areas and benefits of our dealerships, marinas and boatyards that do make our industry ‘Essential’. After all, this is a threat we’ve never faced before and we needed to understand, more than ever, who we are, where we fit and how we survive.”

The results were conveyed to BAO’s lobbyist, Amanda Sines, for final drafting and review, and the completed appeal was delivered by Sines to the Governor late Saturday night.

Burke is emphasizing to all association members the limits in the governor’s exception to these business closure orders. “To be perfectly clear,” she explains, “it is not intended that you continue the retail and sales side under this order. We support the Governor’s order that people to stay at home as much as possible. Marketing and advertising showroom sales at this time are not intended to be covered under this order.”

“Our goal was to protect the essential service and delivery side of your business as well as launching, docking, service and fueling activities in our marinas and yards. You should operate under all the other previously executed orders,” she explained.

Meanwhile, LEMTA notified its neighboring Michigan Boating Industries Association of the successful Ohio action. Nicki Polan, MBIA executive director, has followed the lead and is appealing to Governor Gretchen Whitmer to follow suit, referencing the Ohio order.