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.