Friday, August 8, 2014

Water, Michigan and the Growing "Blue Economy"

Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan shoreline (photo by JHY)

selected from a news release of the Michigan Economic Center

In a white paper published in June 2014 by the Michigan Economic Center at Prima Civitas Foundation Director John Austin defines Michigan’s “Blue Economy” and estimates the economic impact of water-based economic activity at nearly one million jobs and $60 billion annually.

“The economic and job benefits of reclaiming and enjoying our natural waterways, which mark Michigan as a very special place to live, work and run a business, are already tremendous,” said John Austin, Director of the Michigan Economic Center. “We are also beginning to see the economic impact of Michigan firms, entrepreneurs and research institutions participating in the fast-growing global water technology sector, predicted to reach $1 trillion a year by 2020, and providing the talent and innovations to solve global freshwater sustainability issues right here in Michigan.”

The paper was commissioned by the Governor’s Office of the Great Lakes as part of the development of an overall state water-strategy, and as a baseline report to launch the “Growing Michigan’s Blue Economy” Initiative. The initiative is designed to accelerate the growth of Michigan’s water-based economy. The Michigan Economic Center and Grand Valley State University Annis Water Resources Institute are leading the initiative with support from a C.S. Mott Foundation grant.

Austin defines the “Blue Economy” as the ways Michigan’s natural water assets, emerging water education and research centers,and technology-based businesses provide jobs and economic development benefits.

“Blue Economy” Benefits - how water matters for economic growth:
• Conduit for Commerce
• Water-dependent businesses
• Quality of Life and Place
• Great Lakes Restoration
• Emerging Water Technology Businesses
• Water research and education centers

“Economic growth will be a cornerstone of Michigan’s Water Strategy. We must harness our state’s unique capacity for innovation amid these vital natural resources,” said Jon Allan, Director of the Michigan Office of the Great Lakes. “Understanding the elements of the ‘Blue Economy’ and how we might fuel it sustainably is essential to our state’s future. We hope to see more communities build on their natural water assets and more businesses and entrepreneurs get into the 'Blue Economy' field.”

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