Strengthening Our Water-Based Economy
The GLC is supporting research, disseminating information, and collaborating with regional leaders to quantify the economic value of Great Lakes water resources, the return on investments in environmental restoration and water-related infrastructure, and the ecosystem benefits and services generated by the Great Lakes. These and related efforts are aimed at advancing the “Blue Economy” and ensuring that businesses, communities and agriculture are able to leverage our region’s abundant water resources to support strong economies and a high quality of life for residents.
The GLC will support the work of the Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers’ regional economic task force, and collaborate with other partners such as the Council of Great Lakes Industries and the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition, to advance policies, programs and funding to strengthen water-related infrastructure, industries and commerce and facilitate a cooperative approach to improve regional economic performance and competitiveness.
The Great Lakes and the abundant freshwater resources they provide fueled our region’s early development and economic growth. Waterfront areas historically served as centers of economic activity and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River provided a maritime transportation system that facilitated the efficient movement of goods and commodities, supporting industries such as manufacturing, steel production, agribusiness and power generation. Recreational boating and other water-based activities drive a vibrant tourism and outdoor recreation sector centered on the Great Lakes and their tributaries.
Currently, many Great Lakes coastal communities are working to restore and reclaim degraded or under-utilized waterfronts and leverage them to support economic development, recreation and other purposes. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) is accelerating this process, particularly in the Areas of Concern.
Regional leaders have recognized the potential of fresh water and the “Blue Economy” to promote economic growth, attract and retain talent, support water-dependent industries, and sustain a high quality of life in the Great Lakes region. Numerous reports in recent years have showcased challenges and opportunities for the binational U.S.-Canadian Great Lakes regional economy, the potential to leverage the region’s unique freshwater resources, and the need to build on clusters of economic activity. The Great Lakes governors and premiers have created a regional economic task force to tackle long-term challenges, including promoting cross-border trade, supporting key economic sectors and boosting regional productivity.
The Great Lakes Commission is collaborating with regional leaders to strengthen the economy and promote the Great Lakes region as a global center for research and development of technologies to utilize and manage freshwater resources. Some specific areas for collaborative research include quantifying the economic value of Great Lakes water resources, the return on investments in environmental restoration and water-related infrastructure, and the ecosystem benefits and services generated by the Great Lakes. Other Commission activities are supporting efforts to strengthen the Great Lakes maritime transportation system, clean up degraded or underutilized waterfront areas, and revitalize coastal communities.
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