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Multistate, regional economic development planning in the Great Lakes? October 23, 2006

Posted by Tom in Economic Development, Innovation, Workforce.
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The Detroit Free Press’ Tom Walsh shares the Brookings Institution‘s concept of a Great Lakes Economic Initiative, which is primarily interested in aligning the economic development efforts of the states (and provinces) of the region to emphasize regional advantages and reduce overlap. Fasincating article, which highlights the following possible areas of action:

  • Creating a Great Lakes Venture Fund to nurture new business growth.
  • Making an in-region tuition compact that would allow any resident of the region to attend public universities in any other state and pay in-state tuition rates.
  • Developing a coordinated energy independence compact to lead the nation toward new, clean energy sources.
  • Cross-state branding of the “North Coast” to promote the Great Lakes region and its natural assets as a tourist destination.
  • Creating portable pensions and health-care insurance plans that enable easier movement of talent among the Great Lakes states.

Note that 2 of the 5 possibilities directly involve workforce…again, the “Convergence” issues are there for all to see.


There appears to be precedence for this type of concept; the Southern Growth Policies Board was developed in the 1970’s to better align the governors below the Mason-Dixon Line for mutual gain.

The article also digs a bit into the “why’s” of such an alignment, focussing heavily on the regional population drops and a host of other issues:

“Still heavily reliant on mature industries and products, its aging workforce lacks the education and skills needed to fill and create new-economy jobs. Its entrepreneurial spirit is lagging. … Its metropolitan areas are economically stagnant, old and beat up, and plagued by severe racial divisions,” states a new study to be released this week by the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington, D.C.

[UPDATE] Here’s a link to Burgh Diaspora’s further consideration of this concept, from a Steel City point of view.

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