BoatUS honors Virginia economist for waterfront work


Thomas J. Murray, an economist with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, was honored with a BoatUS Recreational Boating Access Award in recognition of his commitment to keeping the nation's waterfronts at work for recreational boating and championing water-dependent businesses and industry that drives local economic development.

Murray serves as Virginia Institute of Marine Science associate director for advisory services and as extension program leader for Virginia Sea Grant, BoatUS said in a statement. In 2007, Murray conceived and was co-chairman of the first national conference examining water access "at a time when boaters were losing slip space to residential development, and public marinas and other boating services were being forced off the waterfront," BoatUS assistant vice president of government affairs Ryck Lydecker said in a statement.

Lydecker presented the award to Murray on Wednesday at the 2013 National Working Waterfronts and Waterways Symposium in Tacoma, Wash.

Murray's work on the first successful watershed boating access event inspired a second such national symposium, in Maine in 2010, as well as today's 2013 Symposium.

"Any time someone mentions economics and boating in the same breath, Tom's name is always the first one that comes to my mind. But the experience, wisdom and collaborative spirit that he brings as an advocate of the boating industry goes far behind just economics. He truly has dedicated his career and life to boating, and so many of us have benefited from his work," Lydecker said.

As an economist and business specialist, Murray is credited with bringing together previously competing interests to preserve coastal access in Virginia and nationwide. He helped facilitate the establishment of marine trades organizations and curricula at local community colleges and revived the Virginia Marine Trades Association. In 2010, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science recognized him for outstanding work in reaching out and providing advisory services to Virginia's coastal businesses and communities.

Murray also has helped secure federal grants that have resulted in a number of new facilities benefiting cruising boaters on Chesapeake Bay and has authored many economic impact studies and reports on subjects such as the economic impact of the Miami International Boat Show and boater spending in Virginia.

He is a member of the Federal Boating Infrastructure Grant review committee, which funds transient boating facilities, and is an advocate of clean marina programs.

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