Genmar chairman Irwin Jacobs has called on the US marine industry to initiate a lobbying effort to gain access to funds administered by GMAC, the financial arm of General Motors. GMAC, in which the US government is now majority shareholder after pouring in billions of dollars, changed its name to Ally Bank in May. Jacobs wrote in an open letter that if the bank includes financing for boats, the boating industry would see an “immediate end” to the downturn.

Jacobs wrote that floor plan and retail financing is “crippling” boat dealers and manufacturers. “If something isn’t done very soon (and I mean soon) to help correct the boat dealer floor plan and retail financing problem in the US, it is conceivable that the entire recreational boating industry could be critically damaged for decades ahead,” he wrote.” I realise that many boat manufacturers and dealers are upset with GE Marine Finance Division’s present floor plan financing programs. However, there’s no doubt in my mind that GE Marine Finance Division is presently also going through incredible financial stress and losses along with our entire industry.”

Jacobs said that if the US government required GMAC to provide financing for boats, it would go along way towards solving its current financial difficulties. “I believe it will take a small fraction of the dollars that the US government gave to GMAC to support the wholesale and retail financing needs of the recreational boating industry,” he wrote.

Jacobs urged an industrywide lobbying effort to accomplish this. “No one seems to be telling our real life-threatening story to the Obama Administration, and if nothing is done very soon, I predict it is only a short matter of time before what I call the boating industry’s life-threatening tsunami could put its final blow on the entire industry for decades ahead,” he wrote. “Not only should the boat manufacturers and dealers be proactive in this campaign, but every employee of every boat manufacturer, vendor and dealership, along with their families and friends need to take part in this critical campaign.”

Jacobs wrote that hundreds of thousands of jobs across the industry have been lost, both directly and through a trickle-down effect. “Fifteen thousand boat dealers directly impacts over 100,000 jobs,” he wrote. “Over 800 boat manufacturers and vendors that represent another approximately 30,000 to 40,000 jobs.”