If Boston is the cradle of American liberty then the Great Lakes region is surely the cradle of American ingenuity and it just happens to hold twenty percent of the world’s freshwater, and it is the second largest economy in the world (as long as we include Canada’s two largest Provinces in our rendition). That is pretty impressive and so is this – our region is responsible for a third of our nation’s GDP and 90 percent of our country’s fresh water – we have the resources and power and now a plan to turn this recent economic downturn around.
The Great Lakes Region Coalition – a group of more than 30 chambers of commerce and nearly 100,000 employers – has launched an aggressive plan to attract investment and create employment that will reverberate throughout the national and global economies. “What is good for the Midwest is good for the United States,” said Mark A. V’Soske, president of the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The timing of the unveiling has not been lost on most – yes, it was meant to take advantage of the frequent visits being made to the swing districts and states in this region as they attempt to woo our vital votes.
“As the presidential candidates vigorously campaign for votes in these swing states, they need to hear from the employers creating jobs and growing businesses on how best to strengthen the region’s economy,” said Andrew J. Rudnick, president and CEO for the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.
Last February a summit of Metropolitan Chambers of Commerce in the Great Lakes was held and the result has been this shared agenda. A report, A Business Agenda for Economic Transformation in the Great Lakes Region, has been releasedby the Great Lakes Region Coalition and the Brookings Institute that details what is needed and what the federal government can do to help along our economic recovery. The focus of these efforts is to promote the Great Lakes and the fresh water within them as the economic engine that they have been in the past and can be again in the future. The lakes can easily be leveraged to support business development and research in the areas of fresh water technology, water-based development, improving supply and quality of fresh water, but none of this can be done without a significant investment in the Great Lakes Restoration plan that is now pending before Congress. We need a president who will drive home that legislative and fiscal package to harness the potential of the lakes and unleash a new, powerful, economic recovery in the heart of this nation. If our leadership can bail out the banking industry to a tune of $250 billion (and a potential cost of $2.25 trillion) then they can surely spare the $20 billion needed to fulfill this agenda.
“Midwestern states are leading exporters for the U.S. and improving the region’s economic standing will strengthen the nation’s role in the global economy,” said Michael Langley, CEO for the Allegheny Conference on Community Development based in Pittsburgh.