MRAA Board Chair Meets With Tenn. Senators
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Posted by: Jay Corn
Randy Wattenbarger, principal of Cleveland Boat Center and chairman of the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, traveled to Washington D.C. last week to meet with members of Tennessee’s congressional delegation and advocate on behalf of boaters everywhere.
The visit was in conjunction with the American Boating Congress, an annual event hosted by the National Marine Manufacturers Association intended to unify the public policy voice of the pleasure boating sector. Randy joined the largest contingent of boating advocates in years on Capitol Hill for three days of congressional meetings, industry updates and strategic planning.
“At an informal light breakfast sponsored by Senators Alexander and Corker, my wife and I had the opportunity discuss the state of boating in the U.S. and in Tennessee,” Randy said. “Recreational boating contributes approximately $122 billion to the national economy with $3 billion directly from Tennessee. We appreciate our senators’ enthusiastic support of and interest in recreational boating.”
Both Senator Corker and Senator Alexander are members of the Congressional Boating Congress, an informal, bipartisan group of U.S. Senators and Representatives formed in 1989 to advocate for the interests of the recreational boating industry. A total of 24 U.S. Senators and more than 100 House members belong to the Congressional Boating Caucus.
Randy felt he was able to expand disscussion of topics important to boaters across the nation during his recent meetings in Washington, including: harmful effects of ethanol blended fuel on marine engines, access to national waters and seashores, aquatic invasive species, clean water and protecting fisheries.
“We had a healthy discussion about how the federal government can help make recreational boating acessible to more citizens,” Randy said. “We didn’t agree on everything, but I left Washington feeling confident our elected officials are committed to working with marine manufacturers, retailers and suppliers to spur growth and make boating safer and more acessbile.”
A pillar of the east Tennessee business community for more than four decades, Randy has served as Chairman of MRAA’s board of directors since 2014 and plays a key role in shaping the associations annual public policy priorities, budget and outreach initiatives. Elected leaders at the local, state and federal level regularly seek his counsel when legislation involving the marine industry arises.
“Randy’s leadership, as evidenced just this week during the American Boating Congress, has been an invaluable resource for both MRAA members, his state and boaters around the country,” MRAA President Matt Gruhn said. “Randy’s advocacy over the years has been instrumental in ensuring the voice of the marine dealer is heard.”