Toledo Legal News - News Proposal designed to promote Ohio's lucrative boating industry

 

With seasonal temperatures expected for the foreseeable future the prospect of boating Ohio's waterways seems ever more likely.

It's no wonder, perhaps, that a proposal to designate the month of June as Ohio Goes Boating Month has cleared the Ohio House of Representatives and been reported out of a Senate committee.

Republican Rep. Steve Arndt, the Port Clinton lawmaker who sponsored the bill proposing the name designation - House Bill 84 - took advantage of committee hearings to stress the importance of the state's lakes and rivers to the overall economy.

"Now many of you, I am sure, are well aware that I hail from the North Coast were the sunny shores of Lake Erie allow for a thriving tourist and boating industry," Arndt told fellow lawmakers. "What you may not know though is that the western basin of Lake Erie has the third largest concentration of boats in the U.S. only behind Marina Del Ray (Calif.) and Miami Beach.

"The boating industry accounts for $3.6 billion in economic impact for the state of Ohio alone."

The economic impact underscores the importance of maintaining a healthy environment and the necessity to keep Lake Erie and other waterways clean and healthy, he said.

"Not only important for economic reasons but it provides a positive image for all Ohioans," Arndt concluded.

In both houses, the lawmaker's testimony was supported by representatives from the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association.

Association President Bryan Ralston told members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that the name designation not only promotes all of the boating opportunities, but it will also would promote state parks, and generate more business for boat dealerships, marinas, yacht clubs, gas docks, and retailers selling boating accessories.

"Ohio is fortunate to have a great Department of Natural Resources, which operates many State parks and boating facilities," Ralston said. "A promotion to introduce more people to those facilities would be a significant benefit to the department and the citizens of Ohio.

"Boating of all levels - kayaking, canoeing, sailing, paddle boards, and power boats - could be enjoyed by more Ohioans if there was information readily available about how and where to participate."

The trades association represents more than 700 Ohio businesses in the marine industry statewide.

Leadership pledged to ask members to invest in the effort by tagging all of their advertising and promotions with the a proposed logo.

Additionally, the association expects to promote the initiative at new boat shows throughout the year.

"Our organization wants to promote boating and the use of the facilities in Ohio to keep people boating in Ohio instead of traveling out of state," he continued. "This designation also introduces more people to the lifestyle of boating.

"In Ohio, annual retail sales of new boats, engines, and marine accessories were $352 million dollars in a recent study by the National Marine Manufacturers Association."

Association Chairman Jim Armington said he believes the move would be an opportunity to maximize the return on the investments by the state in support of boating.

"This initiative keeps more recreational dollars here, gets more people involved in the boating lifestyle, and brings more tax revenue to the state," Armington said before House committee members. "It's a definite win for the citizens, win for the state, and win for businesses involved in boating."

More than 14,000 Ohioans work in the recreational boating industry and an additional 5,000 work in supporting industries, testimony provided. Additionally, 95 percent of all boats sold in the United States are also made domestically.

KEITH ARNOLD, Daily Reporter Staff Writer

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