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MIASF charts course after recent industry-day event

FORT LAUDERDALE — The Marine Industry Association of South Florida’s Marine Industry Day was a major success, drawing 2,000 people to Fort Lauderdale’s Esplanade Park in June and setting the stage for an even bigger and better event next year, MIASF executive director Phil Purcell said after a meeting Thursday to evaluate the industry’s first “Social on the River.”

Purcell wants to turn the dockside program into the “best event in the Southeast,” one that engages the community, the marine industry, other business sectors and the local, state and federal governments, delivering the message that the industry is a valuable asset to South Florida and generates good jobs and benefits.

Pay in the marine industry is 20 percent higher than the state average, Purcell said. “No one knew that,” he said. One reason is that the state and federal government lump marine industry job listings under the same code as other industrial jobs.

Purcell said that has to change: Marine industry positions on state and federal job-listing sites need a separate code so job seekers can more easily identify good-paying boating jobs.

“It’s an antiquated system,” he said. “It’s 30 years old.”

Purcell was pleased that the industry pulled together for the June 14 event, drawing the support of not just the MIASF, but also the Florida Yacht Brokers Association, the U.S. Superyacht Association and Young Professionals in Yachting. He said that next year (the event again will be scheduled for Father’s Day weekend) he hopes to involve more business sectors — banking, real estate and tourism — and more government agencies.

He said Marine Industry Day’s message is simple: The industry generates 90,000 jobs in Broward County and 107,000 regionally; $7 billion a year in revenue in Broward and $8.9 billion regionally; and the region’s diverse government and business sectors can work more closely to create more opportunities for prosperity, stability and growth.

As one more way of engaging the community, Purcell said the MIASF will announce a major charitable undertaking in September.

Family fun will continue to be a major emphasis of Marine Industry Day. Many of the marine businesses that participated set up interactive games for children, including model powerboat races in which youngsters designed, built and installed boat propellers themselves.

“It was a wonderful day” that was fun and purposeful, Purcell said.

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