A View from Here

Bill's Sisson's weekly Trade Only blog

In and out of Florida

I got excited when I heard Edgewater Powerboats plans to stay and expand in Florida instead of moving away like so many other marine companies have done in recent years.
The company cited a great workforce and lower real estate prices as its main motivators, plus industrial revenue bonds worth millions to help with the expansion and a state jobs grant of about $160,000.

I started to think. Maybe Florida’s politicians are finally waking up to the value the marine industry provides for their state. But then, later that same week I had to report a story about Genmar phasing out all of its manufacturing operations in Sarasota. Genmar chairman Irwin Jacobs, echoing comments I’ve heard so often before, said the cost of operating a business makes it hard for marine companies there to compete.

Jacobs made another observation that I hadn’t heard before. He said while politicians talk about wanting to keep marine companies within their borders, the reality is the government does more for companies moving into Florida than for those already doing business there.

How asinine is that? But then I got to thinking, there are countless businesses across the country that do the same thing. Some credit card companies and cable providers are classic examples. They offer you great deals to hook you in, but then charge exorbitant rates and provide less-than-desirable service for existing customers. 

Could the same also be said of the marine industry? Where do you think people get that adage, “my two best days were the day I bought my boat and the day I sold it”?

At least the marine industry is trying to correct this problem with the various Grow Boating programs designed to improve product quality and customer service. When will state and federal agencies adopt this same approach?

If and when they do, let’s hope they don’t call it, The Grow Government Initiative.

Melanie Winters
Associate Editor


2 comments on “In and out of Florida

  1. Joe Lewis

    We are working to change both the adage and the flight of marine manufacturers from the state of Florida.
    While the cost of doing business in some parts of the state have become prohibitive, especially in South Florida and the coast lines, there are many other parts of Florida that are not. Our job will be to identify county and local goverments within the state that would welcome this kind of economic development and put them in touch with manufacturers interested in relocating.
    At the same time we need to working with state government to relax the over bearing regulations that are driving both manufacturing and water access development out of Florida. Enterprise Florida could also play an important role if we can convince them keeping and growing our manufuring sector is just as important ,if not more so , that attracting bio and high tech businesses to the state.
    Hopefully we’ll never see a “Grow Government” promotion. They’ve already grown far to much! Perhaps the answer is the same as that to the adage. Best two days are definately “Saturday and Sunday”. Most government offices are closed! I’d like to see more of them closed longer. It wouldn’t solve all our problems but it would be a great start!

  2. mike webster

    We have not witnessed the loss of marine facilities and “access” in Florida due to too much government!Probably likely due to too little effective response to killing “growth”.
    We have a “growth management” tool at our disposal to a least try- State of Florida Department of Community affairs review of typically harmful,incomplete reviews and support of (for instance) condo proposals by local governments and local “planning” departments.Typically,local government review fails to address the FUTURE NEEDS of an ECONOMIC COMPONENT such as the marine industry when approving the LOSS of current WATER DEPENDENT facility for which there is NO ALTERNATIVE relocation or future availability.(state of Florida growth management rule ‘9-J5′)
    However, forcing this rule requires early involvement on the local scene to create”standing” and then Administrative appeal of local government action.The “marine industry” has failed to apply this process. I had structured a dandy opportunity during a marina/boat yard conversion proposal in Northeast Florida however the local and state marine industry ‘representatives’ vanished in the face of the opportunity.Quite a story.Better to blame the “enviromentalist extremist” (this targets so much of our very own mainstream conservationist customer base!),manatee and ‘too much’ government, “loss of access” which often relates to developer frustration over loss of access for new development that would actually prove harmful to the boating experience and the environment that supports our industry. In defense of marine industry interest there has been a recent recognition that the mantra “highest and best use” results in the future destruction of the infrastruture that supports our industry- or better yet said,supports our customer base.We as an industry have no idea how provocative it is to question “highest and best use”. Perhaps it is time to take the lead, for all of Florida.

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