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Study: Marine development key for South Florida growth

Florida has a shortage of waterfront parcels suitable for marine development, and those that exist need government aid to reach their potential.

That's according to Michael Cannon, executive director of Integra Realty Resources-Miami/Palm Beach, in his recent report, "Small City Creates Big Marine Industry Plans." It was unveiled at the Working Waterways & Waterfronts National Symposium on Water Access 2010, which was held last month in Maine.

In Florida, the economic impact of the marine industry is approximately $18.6 billion and it employs about 220,000. In Broward County, the direct, indirect and induced effects of the marine industry have accounted for an economic impact of more than $10.6 billion and created more than 134,000 jobs, according to the report, which was detailed on the website Citybizlist South Florida.

Because of the diminishing number of waterfront parcels suitable for marine industry development, South Florida continues to lose boatbuilding and related marine industry activity to other areas. To combat this, the city of Dania Beach, Fla., has drafted a redevelopment plan to increase its share of the marine industry.

"Broward County's Dania Beach has created one of the most ambitious marine industry expansion plans in recent memory to stem the tide of the loss of valuable waterfront parcels," Cannon said. "However, this plan is essential as the marine industry has been a vital economic engine in Broward County, and South Florida generates approximately 74 percent of Florida's total marine industry economic impact. Expansion would become a major driving economic force that would best serve the citizens, businesses and the city of Dania Beach."

In addition to the shortage of suitable waterfront parcels, Cannon attributes a decrease in boatbuilding and marine-related employment in South Florida to an absence of the kinds of economic incentives that other states offer.

Florida is losing marine-related business to North Carolina, which offers tax incentives to businesses that move there. Credits are awarded to businesses that create jobs, invest in business property and invest in real property. Other states, such as California and Maine, also offer marine industry-specific incentives to attract and recruit marine businesses.

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