The Dynamic Partnership: Marinas and Government Pave the Way for Economic Growth

Public-private partnerships (PPPs) have become a driving force for economic development in various sectors, and the collaboration between marinas and the public sector stands out as a shining example. This strategic alliance not only fosters recreational opportunities but also catalyzes economic growth, transforms communities, and showcases the power of private investment coupled with public support.

Marinas are essential hubs for water-based recreation, offering boat storage, rental services, and access to aquatic activities. Beyond their recreational function, marinas have emerged as key players in local economies, attracting tourism, creating jobs, and contributing significantly to the tax base, as has been witnessed in Oklahoma.

Developing a Partnership
The genesis of successful PPPs between marinas and government often begins with visionary entrepreneurs, like the developers of CrossTimbers Marina, whose project in Oklahoma exemplifies the transformative impact of such collaborations. These partnerships typically involve the lease of public water bodies or land to private entities, enabling the latter to invest, develop, and manage marinas as well as other recreational facilities.

One of the primary benefits of these collaborations is the substantial economic impact they generate. Marinas, through private investments, enhance infrastructure, expand services, and create employment opportunities. The economic ripple effect extends to local businesses, from restaurants to retail, amplifying the benefits for the entire community.
In the case of CrossTimbers Marina, the growth in property values and revenue generation highlights the positive trajectory resulting from effective PPPs. The Osage County assessor issued a report that underscores how property valuation within close proximity to the marina has surged from $16 million to an impressive $251 million. Revenue generation within the vicinity of the marina has similarly skyrocketed from $180,000 to over $3 million annually, benefiting schools, county services, and the local economy.

Benefits of Development
Additionally, marinas such as Keystone Harbor in Mannford, Oklahoma, operating within the framework of PPPs contribute significantly to job creation and sales tax revenue. The development of new facilities, such as cottages for overnight accommodations, RV parks, floating restaurants, and boat/RV sales and service centers, not only enhances the marina but also spurs additional employment opportunities. Mannford Mayor Tyler Buttram witnessed the substantial economic benefits of a new marina development, stating that Mannford’s monthly sales tax revenues went from $50,000 to $150,000, contributing $1.2 million annually to the community and the state.

The success stories of marina-government partnerships have been valuable for the state of Oklahoma. Starboard Partner’s recent collaboration with the state of Oklahoma to build a new marina and resort at Lake Murray State Park is another noteworthy example. According to the Love County assessor’s office, property values have increased by almost 30% in the two years of marina operation. The marina, which opened in 2021, has already grown to accommodate over 350 slips, showcasing the potential for sustainable growth through PPPs. As the public partner, the state receives tens of thousands of dollars annually from Starboard Partners as concession royalties, with no public funding being contributed to the project.

While PPPs offer immense potential, they are not without challenges. Striking a balance between private investment and public benefit requires careful negotiation and transparent communication. Addressing environmental concerns, ensuring accessibility for all, and aligning long-term goals are crucial considerations in fostering successful partnerships.

The synergy between marinas and the public sector exemplifies the transformative power of public-private partnerships. By leveraging private investment, these collaborations stimulate economic growth, create jobs, and enhance the overall quality of life for communities, all while meeting the ever-growing demand for lakeside amenities. As the success stories of Cross Timbers Marina, Keystone Harbor, and Murray Harbor demonstrate, strategic partnerships between marinas and government have the potential to unlock a wave of prosperity that reaches far beyond the water’s edge.