IMX Sessions To Focus On MarAd Programs

A pair of education sessions during this year’s Inland Marine Expo (IMX), set for May 29–31 in Nashville, Tenn., will focus on programs by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MarAd) that support vessel construction in the United States.

The first session, titled “Federal Funding Opportunities and Forecasting for America’s Shipyards,” set for May 30, will focus on MarAd’s Small Shipyard Grant Program. The second session, set for May 31, will discuss the expansion of MarAd’s Capital Construction Fund Program, which provides tax deferral benefits for vessel construction and refurbishment.

Dave Matsuda, principal with Matsuda & Associates LLC, director of the Small Shipyard Grant Coalition and a former U.S. Maritime Administrator, will lead a panel discussion on grant opportunities and best practices for success when applying for a Small Shipyard Grant. The grant can provide $1 million or more toward shipyard modernization projects, including U.S.-built equipment, like cranes and travel lifts, and worker training programs.

In early March, MarAd announced $8.75 million available for the current round of grants for shipyards with 1,200 or fewer production employees. The grant can cover no more than 75 percent of a project, and shipyards may submit only one grant proposal. The Department of Transportation is required to award grants no later than 120 days after the enactment of the appropriations bill that funded the program.

The Small Shipyard Grant Coalition specializes in both lobbying Congress for grant program funding and helping shipyards submit competitive grant applications. Besides Matsuda, the IMX panel will also include representatives from both shipyards and equipment manufacturers.

The Small Shipyard Grant-focused session is timely in that Congress is now considering at what level to fund the next round of grants. While the 2024 program offered $8.75 million—a 60 percent cut from 2023—Congress is rumored to be increasing the authorization to $35 million in fiscal year 2025.

“The coalition is currently seeking support from shipyards for the program and is asking small shipyards, the manufacturers that support them and others who work with small shipyards to call their senators and their member of the U.S. House of Representatives by Wednesday, May 1, to voice their support,” Matsuda said.

The second session will discuss MarAd’s Capital Construction Fund, which has been amended to make the agency’s tax deferral program available to more U.S.-flag vessel owners and operators, including towing vessels at work on the inland waterways. The session will offer an explanation of the tax deferral program, discuss pending legislative initiatives that could extend it to marine facilities, and overview how regulatory changes impact inland vessel owners and operators.

Panelists for this session will include Jim Kearns, special counsel for Jones Walker LLP; David Gilmore, director of the Maritime Administration’s Office of Marine Financing; and Bill Finnecy, managing tax director for FORVIS.

Additional details on these education sessions and the full lineup of IMX education sessions are available online at