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CMU’s Institute for Great Lakes Research featured in Michigan Blue Economy report

New report details growing water-based economy, includes recommendations for action

Contact: Curt Smith


​​Central Michigan University's Institute for Great Lakes Research is featured in a new report documenting Michigan's Blue Economy

IGLR director Donald Uzarski and IGLR research scientist Matthew Cooper helped contribute to the report, which is designed to spur strategic actions to expand and grow the state's already impressive Blue Economy and help Michigan to become the world's freshwater and water innovation capital.

"We were delighted that CMU's Institute for Great Lakes Research was included as part of this exciting Blue Economy report," IGLR director Donald Uzarski said. "We truly believe that given Michigan's unique water and water innovation assets, we can be the world's center of water work, learning, business innovation, use and enjoyment."

The Michigan Blue Economy report was released by the Michigan Economic Center at Prima Civitas and Grand Valley State University's Annis Water Resources Institute. It defines five ways that water matters to jobs and the economy — and details its economic impact, including:

  • Legacy uses, including transportation, ports and shipping, that contribute over 65,000 jobs and $3 billion dollars annually;
  • Big water-using sectors, including farming and manufacturing, that account for 581,000 Michigan jobs;
  • Emerging water growth sectors, including water technology product and service firms, that account for 138,000 jobs;
  • Economic activity driven by water, including water cleanup, waterfront development, and recreation and enjoyment, that accounts for more than 175,000 jobs and $12.5 billion annually; and
  • Water research, education centers and conservation organizations, including University Research Corridor research universities that conducted $300 million worth of water research over recent years and awarded 3,400 water degrees. Conservation organizations employed 2,700 people and contributed $80 million to incomes.

The report details the stories of Michigan companies and how they are leading the way in developing new water technology products and services.   

"Michigan is already a leading center of water research and development, invention and new smart water technologies, and business development," said John Austin, the report's lead author and director of the Michigan Economic Center at Prima Civitas. "Michigan can show the rest of the world how to be smart stewards of freshwater and the nation's leader in water-based jobs and economic development."

The report documents the work of more than 40 Michigan communities that are focused on water placemaking for economic development and details the economic power of reclaiming former industrial waterfronts and reorienting community life to face and enjoy the water.

It also illustrates water research and education leadership and innovation at Michigan's nine university water research centers, 190 water programs and 18 community colleges.

"Michigan already is a center of excellence in water education and research," said Alan Steinman, co-author of the report and director of GVSU's Annis Water Institute. "We can market Michigan as the place to solve global and local water challenges and train the water talent that the world needs."

The report includes a set of recommendations for strategic actions by state and local public officials, businesses, nonprofits, education and philanthropic leaders who can accelerate Michigan's impressive Blue Economy growth and leadership.

"Water is our history and our future if we reconnect our communities to it and leverage the innovative horsepower we have in our companies, colleges and universities," Austin said.

Central Michigan University is a recognized leader in studying the Great Lakes, with more than 20 faculty in the Institute for Great Lakes Research supported by state-of-the-art facilities in Mount Pleasant and at the CMU Biological Station on Beaver Island. A $95 million Biosciences Building, currently under construction and due to be completed in 2016, will provide enhanced infrastructure to support faculty and student research and classes.


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