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Lobbying yields big pay-off in N.H.

Friday, December 14, 2012   (1 Comments)
Posted by: Matt Gruhn
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – When John Irwin of Irwin Marine, Laconia, N.H., joined his fellow MRAA members at the 2012 American Boating Congress in April, he developed a plan to make the most of his time with legislators on Capitol Hill. Irwin reviewed the issue briefs provided by the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, called his state association’s lobbyist to find out which issues were most critical to the health of local and state-wide marine businesses and then picked four issues to focus on.

One of those four was the Federal Sport Fish and Boating Trust Fund, a talking point that nearly every ABC participant addressed with their respective members of Congress. As of last spring, there were no state-owned boat ramps or docks on Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire’s largest lake. The majority of open public access to the lake was reliant on privately owned marinas and boat yards that service the lake. But thanks in part to the conversations that Irwin has had, that has now changed (to the delight of the public and marina owners alike).

Since Irwin’s meeting with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Rep. Frank Guinta and Rep. Charles Bass during ABC, the N.H. Fish and Game Department has purchased a private marina known as Downing’s Landing at the southern tip of Alton Bay, according to an article in the Nashua Telegraph published on Nov. 27th. This purchase will vastly improve water access, which benefits the area’s marine businesses as well as tourism in Central New Hampshire.

"A lion’s share of the funds for this project came from the Federal Sport Fish and Boating Trust Fund that we were lobbying for when MRAA was in Washington in the spring,” says Irwin. "It’s very exciting to know that my efforts in personally meeting with our two U.S. senators and two Congressmen made a difference here in New Hampshire.”

In 2012, MRAA co-sponsored ABC for the first time and held a strategic planning session for its Board of Directors and Young Leaders Advisory Council in Washington, D.C., immediately prior to the event.

MRAA plans to expand its involvement in the 2013 American Boating Congress, which will take place May 8-9 at The Liaison Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Educational sessions designed to appeal to marine retailers, including a session on how to maximize the opportunity represented by the event’s hill visits, will take place on the morning of May 9th, before Irwin and other MRAA members go back to The Hill to remind members of Congress how important boating is to their constituents.

"I think it’s easy to feel like you can’t make a real difference on federal and even state issues, and so some dealers might not make an event like ABC a priority,” says Irwin. "But this demonstrates that each of us CAN make a difference. In fact, I’d go a step further and say that if we as dealers are serious about the future success of our businesses, we NEED to come together with the industry and make our voice heard, and ABC is the perfect place to do that.”

About Marine Retailers Association of the Americas

Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2012, the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas is the only North American association dedicated to furthering the interests of boat and engine dealers and other marine-related retailers throughout North America. Under the umbrella of MRAA Rewards, the MRAA offers a host of cost-saving, revenue-generating, business-improvement, and professional-development benefits exclusively for its members. MRAA is the united voice of marine retailers. For more information, visit


Barbara Woodard says...
Posted Tuesday, December 18, 2012
John - Congratulations on an outstanding achievement. We are all aware how important public access to our waterways is for the industry to continue in a strong growth direction.

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