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Congress OKs funds for intracoastal
Funding affirms waterway's importance to economy
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WASHINGTON, D.C. — In directing nearly $1 million in funding for Georgia’s portion of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, Congress affirmed a recent study by the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute that the channel is essential to Coastal Georgia’s economy. Georgia Congressman Jack Kingston, who helped secure the funding, said it will be used to alleviate silting, which has caused transit boaters to avoid the area.
“Coastal Georgia has been losing lots of revenue as transit boaters bypass us on the way to Florida,” Kingston said.  “If you’re moving your yacht from New York to Palm Beach we want you to buy gas and groceries in Georgia. It will help create jobs and relieve local taxpayers. Without this funding, more than 2,000 jobs and a $125 million economic impact would be lost.”
The Carl Vinson Institute’s study showed that approximately 23,000 boaters use the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway each year.  Those boaters spent more than $213.2 million last year and, if the channel continues to deteriorate, boater spending could fall by nearly $89 million. According to the study, that reduction in spending would cost Coastal Georgia’s economy $124.5 million and more than 2,100 jobs with $54 million in personal income. In addition, $15 million in state and local government revenue would be lost.
“I want to thank Congressman Kingston and his staff for their outstanding support of our Georgia Marine community,” said Charlie Waller, president of the Georgia Marine Business Association. “The funding will allow us to dredge the problem areas which are scaring away users and the much-needed revenue they bring to Georgia. This spending goes well beyond the marine trade as boaters stopping in Georgia frequent many other businesses such as grocery stores, restaurants, doctors and numerous retail establishments.”
In addition to recreational boating, the waterway serves as transportation infrastructure for coastal businesses and for the harbors in Savannah and Brunswick — where countless more jobs could be lost if the waterway were to become unusable. 
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