The National Marine Manufacturers Association hit lots of high notes during the first day of the American Boating Congress, held virtually yesterday and watched by almost 400 industry professionals.
Soundings Trade Only is a co-host of the event.
Day two, which runs today from 1:30 to 3 p.m. (ET), includes discussions with members of the Biden administration, Congress and policymakers. Register here.
After a welcome yesterday by Nicole Vasilaros, NMMA senior vice president of government and legal affairs, NMMA president Frank Hugelmeyer shared an overview of the state of the industry, mentioned legislative areas of focus and described how the boating industry can work to ensure a voice in governmental policymaking.
“ABC 2021 could not have come at a more critical time for the industry,” Hugelmeyer said, referring to the unprecedented demand for boats coupled with legislative and regulatory actions related to international tariffs, the global supply chain and more.
Other highlights of yesterday's session:
• Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.-21) was given the 2021 Legislator of the Year Award for her service and advocacy on behalf of the boating industry. She is co-chair of the Congressional Boating Caucus.
• Three directors of state offices of outdoor recreation gave overviews of their efforts to support the outdoors industry. Speakers were Amy Allison, director, North Carolina Office of Outdoor Recreation; Brad Garmon, director, Michigan Office of Outdoor Recreation; and Nathan Fey, director, Colorado Office of Outdoor Recreation.
• Discussions with members of Congress, including Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.-01) and Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Minn.-08). Stauber pointed out that his district in Minnesota has more than 148,000 registered boats.
• Q&A with two U.S. Senate staffers: Kaleb Froehlich, chief of staff, office of Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Lance West, chief of staff, office of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). Referring to congressional efforts to address global climate change, West said, “We can’t export policy, but can export technology.” Asked what helps to prepare good advocacy for Murkowski’s office, Froehlich said, “clear, concise and consistent messaging.”
• Comments from Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) and Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.-24), who have worked for resilient water infrastructure. Katko introduced the SHORE Act, which provides funding for the smaller harbors critical to recreational boating. King applauded the work of NMMA and the boating industry, saying boating “brings people joy.”
• Vasilaros detailed the year’s pressing policy updates, including trade, tariffs, infrastructure, supply-chain disruptions, recreational fishing and actions to strengthen the marine industry.
• NMMA’s BoatPAC Champion for Growth Award was presented to Joe Lewis of Florida’s Mount Dora Boating Center and Marina.