Only Black marina operator in Michigan working to open the door for the next generation

Posted at 12:40 PM, Jun 08, 2024

(WXYZ) — For 48-year-old Jason McGuire, boating is not just his business, it's the legacy he plans to leave behind.

“It’s been great and fruitful for me and for my family," he said. “And I love it.”

McGuire runs Riverside Marina in Detroit. He’s currently the only Black marina operator in Michigan and one of eight in the country.

He said he plans to pass the legacy down to his sons. But, he also wants to open the door for the next generation to create a legacy of their own.

“75% of this Earth is surrounded by water,” said McGuire. “So learning something, learning a skill in this field will allow you to be able to travel anywhere in this world and find work.”

Currently there are over 30,000 jobs in the marina industry. However, McGuire says not many people are educated about the field.

In an effort to shine a light on the industry, Riverside Marina teamed up with Great Lakes Boat Building School for a program called "Surge." The hope is to prepare the next generation for a career in boating.

Nikki Storey, who is the president of Great Lakes Boat Building School, said the program is going to give kids an introduction to the boating world.

“What we are doing is bringing youth to the water,” Storey said, adding that gives them “an opportunity to be on the water, as well as learn about different opportunities in the workforce in the marine industry.”

Storey says the program is a first of its kind. Young people between the ages of 14 and 24 will have a chance to explore boat trade skills.

McGuire says the program will be completely free for the youth because it is funded through sponsorship opportunities.

“As a community web have to come together to be able to offer these opportunities to our youth,” he said.

In the meantime, McGuire’s 19-year-old son, Nicholas, is already embracing the family legacy.

“I’m currently about to take this test so I can get my captain's license so I can charter boats,” Nicholas said.

His 10-year-old brother, Ashton, is also beginning to walk in his fathers footsteps.

For more information about Surge, or how to support the program click this link to go to their website.