In his annual State of the Union Address, President Obama has targeted industry as his key focal point, as he attempts to empower an increasingly enchanted middle class of America.

In conflict with his Republican-led House, Mr Obama pledged to introduce “a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity in the middle class.”

To the objective observer, it might seem strange that Mr Obama delivered his speech against a backdrop of deep unpopularity. The US after all, is in the midst of a relatively strong recovery, and is predicted by some to post growth of 3 per cent-plus in 2014. But this has been driven by the financial and service sectors, with manufacturing and industry experiencing a less bountiful revival.

It is no secret that America’s superyacht industry has struggled in recent time. Despite having the world’s largest pool of existing and potential owners, the country has seen its UHNWIs increasingly look to Europe to build their superyachts, whilst the US supply chain has found itself undercut by a weaker euro in recent times.

The country faces a challenge to rejuvenate the industry, but FLIBS 2013 was at its most positive in years, and there is a renewed sense of optimism among the American market. “Going into 2014 we will see more contracts signed”, predicted Christensen’s CEO, Joe Foggia. And in a prescient nod to Obama’s speech Foggia identified the US manufacturing core as the key to a building renaissance. “The only way to make American shipyards better is to reinvest by putting American workers back to work,” he told The Superyacht Annual Report. “Price and competitiveness must be emphasised through eliminating waste, which American shipyards must continue to improve if they are going to succeed.”

One area where the US has remained competitive, even through the hard times, is the superyacht refit sector. And the VP of Rybovich, one of the country’s leading proponents of refit, Carlos Viduiera believes America retains a position of primacy in this area. “Owners and their representatives should research the marketplace and choose the ideal facility for their intended work. In many cases their due diligence will conclude that a refit yard in the USA is the optimal choice.”

Similarly, MTN’s MD, Derik Wagner predicts that this buoyant part of the American superyacht economy will continue to flourish due the prevalence of vessels coming up to five- and 10-year surveys in 2014. Wagner is confident the good times can come back to the US:

“All things considered, more yacht buyers and yacht owners should be looking at how to take advantage of [the] value and benefit [of] the US market, and the great work and vessels we are putting out.”

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