Guest column: Boating means business for Minn. 1st District

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, May 7, 2024

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Guest column by Brad Finstad

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit Alumacraft in St. Peter to see firsthand the impact of our state’s marine manufacturers. Recreational boating is a cornerstone of our local economy, supporting jobs, fostering tourism and providing $6.9 billion in economic impact to our state.

Brad Finstad

The recreational boating and marine industry not only promotes outdoor recreation and leisure, but also sustains livelihoods. The industry supports the boat builder who crafts each vessel, the marina operator who ensures safe and reliable access to the water, and the marine equipment supplier who innovates to increase safety and meet the changing needs of the everyday boater. These business and community members make our district thrive while relying on our more than 10,000 lakes and numerous rivers for their prosperity.
Consider the ripple effect of a single boat sale. It’s not just a transaction, but an investment in our district. In the 1st District, recreational boating supports

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57 local businesses, generates $771 million in economic impact and sustains over 3,000 jobs while stimulating additional industries like hospitality and retail. Each visitor, like those attending the upcoming Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener in Lake City, leaves behind a contribution to our local economy by spending money at hotels, gas stations, and other establishments.

Moreover, the boating and marine industry is a business that embodies our commitment to environmental stewardship. As custodians of our lakes,

Minnesotans in the boating and fishing community are engaged and deeply invested in the delicate balance between development and conservation.

Boating and marine industry leaders live sustainable practices, develop conservation efforts and inspire the preservation of aquatic ecosystems. By doing so, they not only safeguard our natural resources but also ensure the longevity of their businesses for generations to come.

However, despite its undeniable contributions, the boating and marine industry faces challenges threatening its vitality. Regulatory burdens, workforce shortages, lack of resilient infrastructure and access to water loom large on the horizon. These are pressing issues that demand attention.

The boating and marine industry is an economic engine that symbolizes our district’s identity, resilience and promise. As we navigate the waters ahead, let us do so with a renewed commitment to supporting this critical industry that continues to enrich our lives. Together, we can chart a course toward a more prosperous future — one sustained by the great potential of our recreational boating and fishing industry.

Republican Brad Finstad is the 1st District representative for the U.S. House of Representatives.