Keith Tours Hopkins' Go-Float

Friday, April 13, 2012


Boat hulls were stacked waist high in Go-Float’s assembly space. Workers were busy putting together upholstery, wiring and other components for the Hopkins company’s electric boats.

These boats will eventually be shipped throughout the United States and, in some cases, the world. Go-Float is talking with companies in regions ranging from Scandinavia to the Mideast.

But even though business is booming, Go-Float faces the challenges of a growing company. On Wednesday, Rep. Keith Ellison met with leaders from the business to see what he and his staff could do to make those obstacles a little easier to overcome.

“This story’s an exciting one, but there are some challenges we’re going to overcome one way or another,” said Steve Hendrickson, the company’s general manager.

Go-Float’s hurdles aren’t all unique to the company. Hendrickson noted issues like workforce development and access to funding and finance that businesses throughout the country point to.

Yet some are specific to the company’s product. Go-Float would like access to waterways that are off limits to motorboats since it’s electric boats wouldn’t pollute the water. It would also like electric boat buyers to have access to a tax credit like the one for electric cars. And it would like better access to high-tech batteries that are currently being swallowed up by the auto industry.

“Cottage industries like ours are having a hard time getting invited to the party and getting that discussion rolling,” Hendrickson said.

Those are the types of challenges all congressmen and congresswomen seek to overcome for businesses in their district.

Ellison noted that he could talk to the Department of the Interior about allowing electric boats on restricted waterways, look into starting dialogs with battery manufacturers and do an inventory of what is available for Go-Float and what should be available to the company. He also promised to ask the Department of Defense if it needed “super quiet, small, fast boats.”

“We’ve got no magic wands to wave, no promises to make, but we love what you’re doing. We want to be there to help,” he said. “This is a very important success story.”

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