Captain’s chair: Shows’ impact felt year-round December 22, 2015

According to reports from vendors, this year’s Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show was a huge success. But the success of a show is not just measured during the five days it takes place, it’s about the other 360 days of the year. The meetings, sales and transactions that take place during a boat show drive our industry and economy and create lateral benefits and support the region year-round.

The show continually delivers a Super Bowl-sized impact of more than $500 million, so over the course of a decade that’s a $5 billion economic impact. The industry has a regional economic impact of $11.5 billion a year, so over a decade that’s an $115 billion economic impact.

Whether it’s Palm Beach, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or somewhere else, the shows often use public land, convention centers, marinas or other facilities. There are some public-private partnerships that exist that benefit the shows. However, one thing that’s constant is that the industry fosters waterfront development, and we need to protect it.

Over the years, developers come and go, and politicians may change. But the one thing that doesn’t leave is the industry and associations that represent them.

These homegrown international events promote and grow their region’s vibrant economy every year and must be stewarded by public and private leaders for the good of the community.

What attracts people to many popular shows’ hometowns is the water and their diversity. The working waterfront and accompanying industry create revenue for the region, incite people to do things like build resorts, restore reefs and generate property taxes, among many other economic benefits.

The boat shows in South Florida support an industry that employs 136,000 people in the region and pays wages that are 28 percent higher than the state average of $46,566.

A boat show also has a year-round impact on all businesses that exhibit. Community businesses benefit greatly as well when the industry’s workforce spends its wages at local grocery stores, daycares, car dealers, dentists and countless other businesses in the community.

The hurdles the Miami International Boat Show faced recently highlight the importance of stewarding and reinvesting in a boat show, raising awareness of its importance among elected officials and educating people about these economic gems in order to protect their futures. While the Miami show just won approval from Miami-Dade County for two years, if this can happen in Miami, it can happen in Fort Lauderdale or anywhere else.

Boat shows often are public events or public-private partnerships held on public land, and investments into their sites likely would have other public uses. Additional community events including cultural, art, music or other activities would serve a community purpose and provide a community benefit.

The challenges Miami had to overcome reflect a lack of awareness and education of the benefits derived from the show and the region’s marine industry. They highlight the importance of investing both in infrastructure and awareness of the value of all boat shows and the marine industry to South Florida.

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Phil Purcell

Executive Director

Marine Industries Association of South Florida

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Marine Industries Association of South Florida. 221 SW 3rd Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312. Phone: 954.524.2733