The recreational boating industry contributes a staggering $72 billion in economic impact to the United States annually. That's an estimated 350,000 direct American jobs.
What's more, approximately 83 million adult Americans went boating last year. That's more than 35 percent of the entire adult U.S. population.
If you've never heard those numbers before, you aren't alone.
Many people don't know just how much American marine manufacturers are doing to help restore our national economy and how vital the industry is to our nation's waterways and the millions of Americans who enjoy time outdoors on the water each year.
In this election year, the recreational boating industry must take its place on the national stage as not only a fun, family activity but as a key economic driver for the United State.
As the Republican National Convention in Tampa approaches, the boating industry is seizing the opportunity to bring together state delegates, policymakers, members of Congress and the voters they serve.
The industry's trade association, National Marine Manufacturers Association, will represent its boat and marine manufacturer members at the convention, allowing the industry to engage this audience and to help them understand the overwhelming impact that recreational boat, engine and accessory manufacturing has on the U.S. economy.
NMMA will also be present at the Democratic National Convention, just a week later in Charlotte.
The economic resurgence and the impact of recreational boating is not a partisan issue but rather a matter of bipartisan importance.
Recreational boating is a uniquely American manufacturing industry with 83 percent of boats sold in the United States manufactured in the United States. Recreational boating is also a net exporter for the United States. In 2011 boat exports were up 44 percent above the 16-year average of $1.2 billion.
Marine manufacturing has a particularly strong impact on the state of Florida, ranked 1st for new powerboat, motor, trailer and accessories sales.
In 2011, there were 914,535 registered recreational boats in the state, and total retail sales for new powerboat, boat motor, trailers and accessories totaled over $1.5 billion, providing approximately 42,458 boat building and related manufacturing jobs for Florida alone.
Marine manufacturers from across the United States will be joining NMMA at the Republican National Convention event in Tampa, which is scheduled for Aug. 28 from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the Hula Bay Club. These are small business owners who are working to aid the post-recession recovery through their commitment to ensuring that domestic marine manufacturing remains one of the anchors of the U.S. economy.
Theirs are the stories we hope to tell. They are the true face of recreational boating and of American manufacturing.