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Boating advocate is Lauderdale’s top citizen

The Marine Industries Association of South Florida’s Frank Herhold has given as much to the city as to boating

The Marine Industries Association of South Florida’s Frank Herhold has given as much to the city as to boating

Fort Lauderdale, self-proclaimed Yachting Capital of the World, has awarded its 2007 Citizen of the Year award to Frank Herhold, South Florida’s leading advocate for boating and the boating business.

Herhold, executive director of the Marine Industries Association of South Florida, was cited for a host of initiatives to strengthen the industry, promote boating and protect the environment.

“Frank exemplifies how an industry should perform,” said Eugenia Duncan Ellis, chair of the Citizens’ Committee of Recognition, at the April 17 city hall presentation. Ellis, a boater herself, said Herhold has advocated tirelessly for his 800 members, “but on the other side his group has given as much to the city as it has taken from us,” she said.

The Citizen of the Year resolution credits Herhold with taking a leading role in two environmental programs, “Our Waterways, Our Future” — an educational initiative aimed at boaters — and the annual Waterway Cleanup, which draws 3,000 participants and collects 50 tons of trash.

Though Herhold and the MIASF often have opposed environmentalists’ efforts to restrict boating to protect the manatee, the resolution praises him for raising public awareness of the endangered species and stressing law enforcement and the use of technology to protect it.

Herhold also gets plaudits for enhancing Fort Lauderdale as a megayacht destination, and working to preserve working waterfront, bring more marinas and boatyards to the city and dredge its waterways. He also is credited with helping grow the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show into the region’s biggest event economically and strengthening young boater education through the Boater- 101 program in the schools, marine magnet schools and an annual plywood regatta.

“Frank is probably the most visible trade association leader in the city,” said Mayor Jim Naugle. Herhold has helped transform boating into a bigger regional economic engine than tourism, he said, generating a $10.8-

billion impact on Fort Lauderdale and BrowardCounty alone.

“We’re proud of that,” Naugle said.

Herhold said it’s not unusual for someone like himself to get a trade association award, but it is unusual to get a citywide award.

“MIASF has never had a single focus,” he said. “We always covered a broad spectrum of not only industry but community issues. I think a lot of trade associations forget their community and don’t recognize the importance of having a partnership with that community.”

Herhold said it has taken vision and planning to keep Fort Lauderdale’s reputation as the world’s yachting capital — and Venice of America — credible. “As Mayor Naugle says, ‘Boating is the economic engine that drives this car,’ ” he said. For 17 years Herhold has worked hard at keeping that engine tuned and in good working order.

The Citizens’ Committee of Recognition, which gives the award, is made up of former city mayors and longtime civic activists.