Michigan’s “Blue Economy” Means Almost One Million Jobs:
White Paper Details How Michigan Water Assets and Water Innovation Power Economy, Growth Potential Can Be Economic Engine for Future
In a white paper published today 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. (Download or view the report here).
“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: shipping,freight/commercial traffic and warehousing are responsible for over 65,000Michigan jobs and $3.3 billion in annual wages.
· Water-dependent businesses: Michigan already has 660,000 jobs and$49 billion in annual wages linked to water–dependent farming, manufacturing,mining and energy production.
· Quality of Life and Place: 3,000-plus miles of Great Lakes freshwater coast; 11,000 inland lakes, hundreds of rivers, and wetlands – if clean and publicly accessible –translates into recreation, tourism, increased property values and local economic development in adjoining areas. Boater’s spending is $3.9 billion in Michigan, contributing to over 50,000 jobs. Michigan anglers contribute $2 billion annually. Coastal tourism from birding to beach visits is responsible for 57,000 jobs and $955 million in earnings every year. Recreation and tourism spending around inland lakes and rivers has not been estimated, but is likely at least a similar amount. We do know the small, but fast-growing Michigan canoe and kayaking industry already contributes $140 million a year to the economy. Macomb counties “Blue Economy Initiative”, Grand Rapids Grand River re-development projects, the HuronRiver’s RiverUP! Program, along with many other community-based initiatives that focus on re-purposing of natural water features are vital parts of community place-making efforts and local economic development programs.
· Great Lakes Restoration: Michigan’s $163 million dollars in federal Great Lakes Restoration projects, leveraging additional state and local dollars is leading to direct employment and long-term economic benefits calculated at anywhere from $3 to $1 return (Brookings Study of Great Lakes Restoration Impacts), to $6.6 to $1 return on investment (Grand Valley State University Study of the economic impact of Muskegon Harbor clean-up)
· Emerging Water Technology Businesses: MEDC estimates there are over 350 emerging water-technology based firms in Michigan, beginning to exploit a nearly $1 trillion dollar growing global market for water cleaning, conservation, restoration, monitoring, infrastructure-building, and engineering work. These range from big manufacturing firms like Dow Chemical (water filtering), Cascade Engineering (water cleaning), to growing service firms like Limnotech (ecosystem engineering)—all working on a global basis.
· Water research and education centers: Michigan’s universities and colleges are growing their programs in water research, and ecosystem management – from University of Michigan’s new Water Center; Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center, MSU’s Center for Water Science, Macomb and Northwestern Michigan Community College water-programs – all are attracting new students and top talent, millions in research dollars, and contributing to new business creation. Grand Valley State Water Resources Institute and its growth alone are responsible for $3 million dollars to the local Muskegon area economy.
“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.”
“As we work with the network of water innovators in Michigan, we will better understand how Michigan communities, education institutions, and firms are working to grow the “Blue Economy” and how public and private leaders, the state, philanthropic and other stakeholders can support enhanced efforts,” said Austin. “We hope to see more communities build on their natural water assets and more businesses and entrepreneurs get into the 'Blue Economy' field.”
About the Prima Civitas and the Michigan Economic Center
The Prima Civitas exists to serve all residents of Michigan in creating a new, prosperous, and sustainable economic future for our great state. As an economic driver committed to transforming the way we do business,PC is a center for innovation in the 21st century economy that will define Michigan's future. PC is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. www.primacivitas.org.
The Michigan Economic Center is a PC program that works to develop and promote key policies and practices for advancing our economic future andpromotes and facilitates the adoption of the policies and practices by Michigan citizens and leaders. www.MiEconomicCenter.org.
Please contact John C. Austin at email@example.com for further information.