It’s Not What You Know, But Who You Know

Published on August 13th, 2013

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s controversial decision last week to change the dates of the New York Boat Show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center followed a personal meeting about two weeks ago with a boat dealer who knows him, Crain’s has learned.

The organizers of the Boat Show, the National Marine Manufacturers Association, have tried for a decade to move their show from early January to later in the month.

“We didn’t see any hope,” said Ben Wold, executive vice president of the association, who declined to identify the boating executive, except to say that he was able to persuade the governor to change the dates. “My attitude is that the governor cared about small businesses and he acted.”

Mr. Cuomo’s office did not immediately return a call or an email message seeking comment. Late last week the administration announced that the annual show would be moved to mid-January, when attendance is likely to be better because it’s not so close to the holidays.

The move infuriated organizers of the shows being moved to accommodate the boating extravaganza. They are scheduled to meet with the administration at the governor’s midtown Manhattan office Wednesday, Aug. 14, according to a spokesman for Friends of Javits, a group of 50 trade show operators.

The group is protesting the governor’s decision, saying it displaces six trade shows and conflicts with the convention center’s own booking policies.

Last week, the governor said that the $5.8 billion boating industry in New York needed a “shot in the arm” particularly since Superstorm Sandy, which devastated many marinas and hurt boat dealers’ sales.

The New York Boat Show was bumped from its original mid-January dates at Javits in 2003 by the National Retail Federation, according to Mr. Wold. The result, he added, was declining attendance at the show and dealership sales as well as a shorter show.

“We went from 94,000 attendees over nine days in 2003 to 31,000 attendees over three days last year,” he said. – Crain’s New York Business, read on

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