By Mark S. Kuhar
The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway maritime industry supports 227,000 jobs in the U.S. and Canada, and annually generates $14.1 billion in salary and wages, $33.5 billion in business revenue, and $4.6 billion in federal, state/provincial and local taxes.
North American and Canadian aggregates producers, cement producers, farmers, steel mills, construction firms, food manufacturers and power generators depend on the 164 million metric tons of essential raw materials and finished products that are moved annually on the system.
This vital trade corridor saves companies $3.6 billion per year in transportation costs compared to the next least-costly land-based alternative.
The industry’s many stakeholders will no doubt take a strong interest in efforts to restore the Great Lakes that will be highlighted in Cleveland this September when hundreds of advocates, scientists, public officials and conservation leaders gather for Great Lakes Week 2012.
The theme of this year’s event, to be held Sept. 10-13 in downtown Cleveland, is “Taking Action, Delivering Results.” It will focus public attention on efforts to rid the Great Lakes of toxic hotspots, reduce polluted runoff, restore fish and wildlife habitat, and prevent Asian carp and other invasive species from entering the lakes.
Great Lakes Week advances the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the largest investment in the Great Lakes in two decades. The special week also gathers the annual meetings and conferences of various U.S. and Canadian organizations in one place, making it one of the most wide-ranging Great Lakes summits. Leaders will explore issues of importance to citizens on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border.
“We all have a vision for what we want the Great Lakes to be for the region’s economic and environmental future,” said Cameron Davis, EPA’s senior Great Lakes advisor.
“Great Lakes Week is the chance for leaders from both countries to come together to demonstrate what they’ve done and will continue to do to keep pushing for that vision to become a reality.”
Great Lakes Week 2012 will feature the following events:
- Sept. 10: International Joint Commission Meeting.
- Sept. 10: Great Lakes Week Town Hall.
- Sept. 10-11: Great Lakes Commission Annual Meeting.
- Sept. 11-13: Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition’s 8th Annual Great Lakes Restoration Conference.
- Sept. 12: A joint session with U.S. and Canadian federal officials and organizations participating in Great Lakes Week.
- Sept. 12-13: Great Lakes Areas of Concern Annual Conference.
“We’re excited to be coming to Cleveland, a city which has been at the center of some of the nation’s most urgent environmental challenges – and greatest comeback stories,” said Jeff Skelding, director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “Restoration projects are producing results. And even though a lot of work remains, we are eager to showcase our successes in Cleveland.”
Tim Eder, executive director of the Great Lakes Commission, said, “Great Lakes Week will help build upon the enormous energy that now exists to restore the Great Lakes and keep invasive species like Asian carp and others from colonizing the lakes.”
Communities across the basin area have the opportunity to witness daily how Great Lakes restoration benefits both the environment and economy, according to Dave Ullrich, executive director of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative.“
Cities are the front lines of the restoration effort and are working to ensure our bi-national commitment to the Lakes continues,” he said.
“In Cleveland, the International Joint Commission (IJC) will be reporting on our priority research work, highlighted by our focus on Lake Erie,” said Lana Pollack, U.S. chair of the IJC. “Supported by a new Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the U.S. and Canada can work together to make real progress on the challenges facing Lake Erie.”
For more information on Great Lakes Week activities visit www.glweek.org.