Captain’s Chair: To grow, each of us must help steer our industry May 26, 2015

Broward County has a population of 1,748,066. Of those residents, more than 110,000 are employed by the county’s marine industry.

Those 110,000 people are an integral part of the local community. We buy houses and cars, shop at the local grocery and department stores, go to the doctor or dentist, take out loans from local banks, enroll their kids in school and daycare and hire local plumbers or roofers.

We also can be the employer or the employee. Many local marine businesses are startups founded by enterprising entrepreneurs, and many have been in the family for three or four generations already.

In 2014, we earned almost $4 billion, up from almost $3 billion in 2010. The state’s population is forecast to go from 19 million now to 25 million by 2030, and hopefully many of those new residents will participate in the marine industry.

Yet despite this massive presence, many people in South Florida do not realize the breadth or scope of the local marine industry.

In the past year, as we’ve attended meetings with local leadership organizations such as the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, the Broward Workshop, the Tower Forum and other local organizations, I’ve noticed that very few people from the marine community are in attendance.

The people that make up our industry are some of the brightest, most talented and hardest-working people in our community. As a key driver in our community, it is vital now more than ever that we make our presence humbly known.

There are several ways we can do that, in addition to getting involved with the groups I just mentioned.

One way is to engage in our association, and make your issues known. Also, are you using the tools already available to your, such as your company’s website, your Facebook page, LinkedIn, YouTube or other social media channels to promote the industry? Are you utilizing our resources such as our job board and networking events and participating as a community?

The solutions to some of the issues facing our industry, such as All Aboard Florida, may have costs involved, but we need to ask ourselves what the cost would be if we don’t do anything.

These are just a few options. No matter how you get engaged, it’s vital that you make your voice heard. Another reason we should get involved is because there are several features that make our area unique that many people do not even know about. We have the third largest reef right off our coast, and Florida is the third largest state in the country, with Broward coming in as the second most populous county in the state.

The Florida Reef, at 170 miles long and running from Martin County to the Keys, is the third-largest reef system in the world, after the Great Barrier Reef and the Belize Barrier Reef.

Because of our geographical location, we are the pier for North America – South Florida is three hours (or less) from Latin America, Chicago, New York, Cuba and the Caribbean.

The region’s oceanographic research hub – Florida Atlantic University, University of Miami, and Nova Southeastern University – rivals Silicon Valley or North Carolina’s research triangle in Durham on marine research relevant to our climate and planet. Seventy-one percent of our planet, by the way, is covered by water, and many of the challenges we face are air and water based. Researchers at those institutions are studying subjects that can have far-reaching implications, such as why starfish and stone crabs can regenerate and humans can’t.

The marine community is the thread that binds all of these things together. And the perfect venue to celebrate that community is at Marine Industry Day, on June 20 at Esplanade Park in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

This event unifies the community, from members of the recreational marine industry to the oceanographic research centers to our partners, the U.S. Superyacht Association, Young Professionals in Yachting, the Florida Yacht Brokers Association and the Marine Industry Cares Foundation.

So bring your family and come out and join your colleagues for a fun and entertaining day. In addition to the usual method of transportation, you can bike, walk or pull up by boat.

Listen to one of the live bands, enjoy food from a variety of local food trucks, entertain the kids with a variety of marine-related activities, learn something about the groundbreaking research taking place in our own back yard, or just kick back and relax.

We hope to see you there, and look forward to getting the word out about our industry.

© MIASF 2016 | All rights reserved | Photo credit: Scott Pearson Photography

Marine Industries Association of South Florida. 2312 S. Andrews Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316. Phone: 954.524.2733