Toledo sits in the heart of a region widely recognized as the second largest economy in the world – the Great Lakes region. Comprised of twelve Midwestern states and two Canadian provinces, the Great Lakes region is home to one third of the US population, has an extensive history as a center of innovation, education and production, and possesses an abundance of natural resources – including one fifth of the world’s fresh water.
The Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce has been actively engaged in an unprecedented effort to draft a policy agenda intended to capitalize on this region’s assets and spark its stalled economic recovery. Joining with over thirty other Chambers of Commerce from across the region, including the Chicagoland, Minneapolis, Detroit and Cleveland Chambers, the Toledo Regional Chamber has become part of the Great Lakes Metro Chamber Coalition. The coalition has collaborated with the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program to bring forth an agenda for job-creating investment and talent attraction for the Great Lakes region.
The group’s agenda – outlined in its report An Agenda for Jobs and Economic Transformation in the Great Lakes Region recommends new investment and policy adoption in five strategic areas:
• Federal transportation infrastructure funding and policy
• A 21st century border with Canada
• Investment in the Great Lakes to transform our economic region
• Great Lakes innovation strategy
• Federal immigration policy
The impetus behind this activity was a 2007 report by the Brookings Institution entitled The Vital Connection: Reclaiming Great Lakes Economic Leadership in the Bi-National US-Canadian Region that laid out the economic realities and opportunities for the Great Lakes region. Subsequently, metropolitan Chambers from across the region met to discuss the report’s findings and the coalition officially convened shortly thereafter.
The Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce has committed staff and resources to the development of the policy agenda, particularly regarding infrastructure funding and policy – an area with the potential to increase the flow of goods throughout the region, create jobs and provide an economic benefit estimated to be over $100 billion. The overarching goal is a coordinated intermodal transportation strategy that will give the Great Lakes region an edge as a hub of international trade and position the region strongly within the global economy.
To learn more about the Great Lakes Metro Chambers consortium and the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce’s involvement, please contact Carol Van Sickle, VP of Public Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org.