Established in 2013, the Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR) is an independent, non-profit corporation that was created to think strategically about the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Region as a bi-national economic region. It mobilizes business leaders, lawmakers, government executives and policy specialists, academia and advocates from non-governmental organizations in accelerating regional economic growth safely and sustainably. The Council achieves this mandate by building innovative partnerships, convening thought-provoking events that stimulate conversations and ideas, conducting insightful research and generating sensible policy solutions.
For more information about CGLR and the issues below, visit http://councilgreatlakesregion.org/.
Low Water Blues: An Economic Impact Assessment of Future Low Water Levels in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River
If future Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River water levels remain near the low end of the historic range for sustained periods, what could this mean for the enormous regional economy that depends on the waterways? A new Mowat Centre study conducted for the CGLR assesses the possible long-term economic impacts on five of the region’s key economic sectors. We conclude that this impact could be considerable, potentially reaching US$18.82 billion by 2050 in today’s dollars.
Modernizing Infrastructure in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region
The McKinsey Global Institute estimated in its recent report, “Infrastructure Productivity: How to Save $1 Trillion a Year”, that keeping pace with projected global GDP growth will require an estimated $57 trillion in infrastructure investment. In the U.S. and Canada, the investment challenge is particularly dramatic. In an effort to eliminate infrastructure deficits and investment gaps in the Great Lakes region the CGLR will lead an effort to modernize infrastructure by enabling regional planning and public-private partnerships as part of a Commitment to Action announced at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America conference in June 2014.
Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region Tourism Initiatives
Over the past six decades, tourism experienced continued expansion and diversification, becoming one of the largest and fastest-growing economic sectors in the world. The Great Lakes region is rich in natural beauty, heritage and culture, and has everything it needs to be one of the world’s leading global tourism destinations. The challenge, however, is that no one organization has had the mandate, or the resources, to promote the region as a region. The CGLR, working with government, business, academia and the non-profit community, will develop an approach that promotes the region as a destination and that results in new product development, which would grow tourism on both sides of the border and in turn stimulate economic activity in parts of the region that have been hit hard by the global recession.
Evaluating Energy Use in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region
Within the strong United States-Canada energy relationship, the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region is a well-established, strategic energy market and transit corridor for the North American economy in terms of production, distribution, and exploration. Looking ahead, there are important changes taking place in the regional energy market that could appreciably alter energy use in the region as well as the trade in and flow of energy between the two countries. The CGLR is currently seeking partners from all sectors to develop an energy outlook for the region, which would examine the various energy markets in the region, interconnections and trade flows, and investment opportunities with a focus on renewable energy and shale gas developments.
Support for Cross-Border Trade by SMEs
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are critical drivers of growth in the 21st century economy. SMEs are underrepresented in cross-border trade in the region. Capacity constraints limit SMEs’ ability to tackle border regulations and issues, identify appropriate partners and clients on the other side of the border, and access existing government supports. Develop mechanisms to encourage cross-border trade by the region’s SMEs by increasing knowledge-sharing, reducing regulatory and capacity barriers, and engagement with the current round of consultations on Beyond the Border and the Regulatory Cooperation Council.
Mutual Skills Recognition for Regional Workforce Development
A major impediment to labor mobility across the region is certification, as skilled tradespeople require additional/different certification to do the same job in other states/provinces. The CGLR, working with partners from around the region, will conduct a comprehensive analysis of needs and feasible solutions with a view to developing a pilot program to facilitate movement in high-demand sectors including: construction, energy/mining, health care and information technology.
Building Coherence in Regional Security Issues
There are numerous U.S. federal government agencies that operate in the interrelated security, hazards, emergency response, and critical infrastructure space, but there is no effective horizontal coordination among their regional arms. The landscape increases in complexity when Canadian agencies and state/province level agencies are brought into the picture. The CGLR is working to create a forum to convene all government agencies working on security issues in the region to encourage increased coordination and communication.