Boating Industry Stakeholder Testifies Before Congress, Asks for Passage of PREPARE Act

Marine Retailers Association of the Americas (MRAA) member Rick Chapman, General Manager of The Port of Sunnyside Club, Inc., recently testified before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Small Business Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Regulations and advocated for the passage of the Providing Resources for Emergency Preparedness and Resilient Enterprises (PREPARE) Act.

The hearing, titled “SBA’s Role in Climate Solutions,” explored how the Small Business Administration can facilitate access to capital for climate change mitigation investments and resilience efforts. The hearing highlighted various federal programs and services, which can support small businesses, while also looking at areas in need of improvement. The boating industry is no stranger to these impacts, as facilities like marinas and dealerships are prone to extreme weather events and gradual sea level rise.

“2020 was the sixth-consecutive year in which 10 or more billion-dollar weather and climate disaster events have impacted the United States,” said Marine Retailers Association of the Americas Government Relations Manager Chad Tokowicz. “This increase has a direct impact on the small businesses that help drive economic recovery. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that those small businesses are equipped to protect themselves from the existential threat that disasters pose.”

During the hearing, Chapman highlighted how investment in the resilience of marine business is critical for his marina, which is based on the St. Croix River in Stillwater, Minn., to stand the test of climate change. He highlighted how Minnesota is impacted by a variety of extreme weather ranging from drought and floods, to extreme heat and tornados, while underscoring the need to address these weather events before they happen and build resilient business infrastructure.

“To accomplish this, Congress should include language from the Providing Resources for Emergency Preparedness and Resilient Enterprises (PREPARE) Act in the resiliency title of any infrastructure package that moves forward to allow small businesses to access much-needed capital to invest in disaster-resilient infrastructure” Chapman noted in his testimony. “This landmark legislation would allow the SBA to make low-interest, fixed-rate loans of up to $500,000 to small businesses to invest in their properties to protect facilities, real estate, and contents from natural disasters.”

While the SBA does have diaster loans for businesses to use after extreme weather or natural disasters, there are currently no programs to help businesses to protect their businesses in preparation of these types of events. This legislation will be instrumental in helping the boating industry, as well as others in the outdoor recreation space, protect their businesses and investments from climate change.

MRAA and NMMA encourage all boating community stakeholders to visit the Boating United Action Alert and ask your members of Congress to cosponsor this important piece of legislation.

For more informaiton, please contact NMMA director of federal government relations, Callie Hoyt at choyt@nmma.org.