The International WorkBoat show is usually a place where deals are made, ending with a signed contract.

But at booth 1036, signatures were important in another way as well. Visitors that stopped by to learn more about Genoa Design International’s ship designs were asked to sign a poster in support of the company’s donation to a non-profit arts group in New Orleans.

It’s a tradition for the Newfoundland, Canada-based company to donate to a local charity in each community where the company attends a conference. While at the Workboat Show in 2018, the company gathered sacks of warm socks for the New Orleans Mission. Last year, they donated about $3,500 to a local music organization.

Genoa doesn’t ask for donations from those who sign the board, just an acknowledgement of support for their philanthropy. The more signatures, the higher the donation the company makes, according to Chris Laughlin, U.S. client liaison manager for Genoa. “We tell them that we’re (making the donation) in their behalf.”

This year the company chose Upturn Arts, which encourages New Orleans youth to explore and build confidence in themselves as artists.

“Many of these kids wouldn’t be able to do such a thing” without this program, said Adam Martin, a creative designer at Genoa, who worked on the project.

He said the company had a student intern research and prepare a list of non-profit organizations operating in New Orleans which Genoa used in choosing a beneficiary, preferring to focus on groups that help young people.

Things get rolling a few months before the WorkBoat Show when the company contacts the chosen organization. But the response received was one of skepticism this year as the arts group thought it was a scam, Martin said. “I went to their office to pick up a T-shirt to show at our booth and they still thought it was a scam up until the last second.”

Genoa has been encouraging other exhibitors at the show to make similar gestures while in New Orleans.

“It’s just a friendly challenge,” Laughlin said. But so far there have been no takers, leaving Genoa as the only WorkBoat Show exhibitor so far to make such local donations.

Pamela Glass is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for WorkBoat. She reports on the decisions and deliberations of congressional committees and federal agencies that affect the maritime industry, including the Coast Guard, U.S. Maritime Administration and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Prior to coming to WorkBoat, she covered coastal, oceans and maritime industry news for 15 years for newspapers in coastal areas of Massachusetts and Michigan for Ottaway News Service, a division of the Dow Jones Company. She began her newspaper career at the New Bedford (Mass.) Standard-Times. A native of Massachusetts, she is a 1978 graduate of Wesleyan University (Conn.). She currently resides in Potomac, Md.

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