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Chamber leads federal policy effort: partnership between the federal government and the Great Lakes states to provide an immediate boost to the region's economy.

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.

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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 economic benefit to the region and nation, as well as hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Sarah Hubbard is vice president of government relations for the Detroit Regional Chamber.

RELATED ARTICLE: Contributing chambers of commerce:

* Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce

* Allegheny Conference

* Buffalo Niagara Partnership

* Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce

* Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber

* Columbus Chamber of Commerce

* Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce

* DavenportOne

* Detroit Regional Chamber

* Duluth Chamber of Commerce

* Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce

* Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce

* Greater Cleveland Partnership

* Greater Des Moines Partnership

* Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce

* Greater Louisville, Inc. - The Metro Chamber of Commerce

* Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce

* Illinois Quad City Chamber of Commerce

* Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce

* Lancaster Chamber of Commerce & Industry

* Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce

* Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce

* Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce

* Muskegon Area Chamber of Commerce

* Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce

* Northwest Michigan Regional Chamber Alliance

* Rockford Chamber of Commerce

* Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce

* Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce

* Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce

* Youngstown/Warren Chamber of Commerce
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Author:Hubbard, Sarah
Publication:Detroiter
Geographic Code:100NA
Date:Apr 1, 2009
Words:550
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