The Great Lakes region is the world's most important economic engine, covering all or parts of twelve states and two Canadian provinces. Indeed, it is the second largest economy in the world, the cradle of innovation, ingenuity and productivity, the home of many of the world's leading educational and health care institutions, and the source of 20 percent of the world's fresh water supply.
The region faces significant challenges as it adjusts to a new global economy: challenges that call for a change in approach to the region's future. Those changes include a new partnership between the federal government and the Great Lakes states to provide an immediate boost to the region's economy through significant job-creating infrastructure investment, as well as new policies to help drive the long term economic transformation of the region.
The Detroit Regional Chamber led a group of metropolitan chambers of commerce in developing an agenda for the transformation of the Great Lakes region, based on a new collaboration among federal, state and local government and the private sector, and emphasizing strategic federal investment in five key areas that will help return the region to its historical role as a jobs-creating machine.
In early February, the group went to Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress. While there, they met with U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue, Canadian Ambassador to the United States Michael Wilson and numerous members of Congress and staff from around the Great Lakes states.
The chambers are calling for significant short term and long term investment and new policy initiatives in five strategic areas:
* Federal transportation infrastructure funding and policy
* A 2lst century border with Canada
* Investment in the Great Lakes to transform our economic region
* Great Lakes innovation strategy
* Federal immigration policy
Collaborating with the Brookings Institution and building on the work of the Great Lakes Commission and other regional groups, the chambers are recommending federal adoption of a strategic cluster of projects that will put thousands of people immediately back to work and will also fuel the region's longer term economic transformation.
The most immediate recommendations revolve around transportation and watershed restoration projects. In total, the initiatives recommended by the chambers will result in well over $100 billion long term...