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Past Events

09 Jul


CGLR Hosts Virtual Event for Education, Innovation & Entrepreneurship; Releases Great Lakes, Great Minds Report

July 9, 2020 | By |

When the global pandemic interrupted the 6th annual Great Lakes Economic Forum, the Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR) pivoted on the spot, and developed a virtual approach, which included bringing thought leaders from across the region and across sectors together and releasing their latest report ‘Great Lakes, Great Minds: Setting the Stage for Higher Education, Business, and Government Collaboration in the Great Lakes to Drive Talent Development, Innovation & Entrepreneurship.’

‘Future Now: Education, Innovation & Entrepreneurship in the Great Lakes’ June 18, 2020 was the first in the series of anticipated webinars and dialogues around critical socioeconomic and environmental issues facing the binational Great Lakes economic region and watershed, challenges that must be overcome collaboratively in order to build and ensure a thriving, sustainable, and welcoming region, from the boundaries of Minnesota to New York and with the provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

“Today’s globalized, tech-driven, knowledge economy rewards innovation and the mobilization of highly educated talent, whether from local sources or global markets. Ultimately, the economy grows where talent lands and congregates. If the Great Lakes region is to compete and win, it is imperative that we find new ways of leveraging our world-class network of teaching and research institutions to produce the high-skilled workers, innovators, and entrepreneurs who will lead us forward in the new economy,” said Mark Fisher, CGLR CEO, framing the event. 

Greg Stanford, Consul General of the U.S. Consulate General in Toronto, opened the webinar with remarks, highlighting the positive impact of cross-border workforce efforts, citing the compatible licensing which enables nurses to work across the U.S.-Canadian border, which has proved critical during the COVID-19 global pandemic, and calling for  deeper collaboration between Great Lakes higher education institutions, with multiple opportunities outlined in the ‘Great Lakes, Great Minds’ report that was funded by the United States Mission in Canada.

The Hon. Ross Romano, MPP for Sault Ste Marie and Ontario’s Minister of Colleges and Universities gave the keynote address. Focusing on the potential for higher education institutions to collaborate, Minister Romano ensured the virtual crowd, “I look forward to the opportunity to work together with our friends across the Great Lakes to build upon our collective strengths in advanced education and research. You have a partner in Ontario!”

John Austin, Director of the Michigan Economic Center and Senior Non-Resident Fellow with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Brookings Institution, co-authored the report with Fisher and joined the first of two panel discussions.  Highlighting the strengths of the region’s world-class teaching and research institutions and the role they play—and can play—in making the region a center of action, innovation, and talent to serve the world, he observed, “Every time we share the facts about our strength in the Great Lakes region to solve problems today and tomorrow, people are amazed.”  The report includes the recommendation to form a public-private roundtable and a fund to mobilize bi-national partnerships among higher education institutions in the region in order to position it as a place to learn, innovate, work, and compete globally.  

An example of that type of collaborative effort was demonstrated by the additional comments and insights from Dr. Alex Mihailidis, Associate Vice-President of the University of Toronto and Ms. Jisu Hong, Associate Vice President of the University of Illinois, who announced a bilateral partnership between the universities as part of their joint commitment to support the development of a Great Lakes Education and Workforce Development, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Roundtable, a key recommendation in the report. 

The final panel focused on the effective application of education and skills development into the workforce and the importance of inclusive opportunities.  Jake Hirsh-Allen, the Economic Graph and Higher Ed Learning Solutions Lead at LinkedIn Canada, highlighted the ways in which skills data can immediately inform smarter workforce development overall and foster collaboration between education institutions.  Jimmy Greene, CEO of Associated Builders and Contractors’ (ABC) Greater Michigan Chapter, highlighted the need to also include trades in both consideration of the post-secondary education requirements not only for a strong workforce and equitable livelihoods, but also for sustainable infrastructure on which the region relies. “It’s great when communities proudly tell me they have 70% of their high school graduates with clear plans (for colleges and universities),’ said Greene, ‘But I remind them that they are responsible for 100% of their students. Trades is another avenue for post-secondary learning.” Vicki Saunders, founder of SheEO, rounded out the comments, observing, “51% of the population have access to 2.2% of the capital. It is statistically impossible for this to happen without massive systemic issues,” and outlined the opportunities to change that, including providing skills, support, and funding to female entrepreneurs.

“While we were disappointed to cancel the Great Lakes Economic Forum this year, we’re delighted that that Council can continue to provide a platform for cross-sector conversations and collaboration on a series of critical topics that will define the Great Lakes region’s long-term competitiveness and sustainability,” said Fisher. “CGLR will continue to produce virtual opportunities and looks forward to returning to in-person engagement opportunities, such as the live version of the Great Lakes Economic Forum, when the time is right.

30 Nov


Council of the Great Lakes Region & International Association for Great Lakes Research Form Partnership in 2019

November 30, 2019 | By |

The partnership between the Council of the Great Lakes Region and  International Association for Great Lakes formed in 2019 is designed to improve the connection between science, policy, and business interests to accelerate both the restoration and protection of the Great Lakes and the region’s sustainable development.

The Great Lakes watershed, shared by the United States and Canada, as well as eight U.S. states and two Canadian provinces, is a globally significant freshwater resource requiring special protection and management. The watershed provides drinking water to millions of Americans and Canadians, and supports a regional economy that serves as the engine of commerce in and between both countries. The watershed is also one of the world’s most diverse, with 3,500 species of plants and wildlife and more than 250 species of fish.

The economy and environments of the Great Lakes are vitally important to both countries, yet conversations about the region’s development and protection are often disconnected. The partnership between CGLR and IAGLR serves as a unique platform for connecting scientific experts, policy makers and lawmakers at all levels of government, companies and business leaders across sectors, nongovernmental organizations, youth, and civil society to each other’s dialogues, with the goal of finding solutions to the region’s interrelated socioeconomic and environmental challenges.

“A strategic goal of IAGLR is to engage its considerable scientific expertise to better inform policy decisions pertaining to the many transboundary socioeconomic and environmental problems facing the Great Lakes,” notes Paul Sibley, president of the research-based association. “The formalized partnership between IAGLR and CGLR provides a mechanism to achieve this goal and reflects the growing recognition that solving Great Lakes issues requires integrative collaboration between scientists, policy makers, lawmakers, industry, and the public that extends beyond traditional boundaries and approaches; one that incorporates a diversity of perspectives and expertise.”

The partnership was announced at the State of Lake Huron Conference in Saginaw, Michigan on October 10, 2019. The event was co-hosted by CGLR, IAGLR, and the Great Lakes Beach Association.

About the International Association for Great Lakes Research

The member-run International Association for Great Lakes Research is a scientific organization made up of researchers studying the Laurentian Great Lakes, other large lakes of the world, and their watersheds, as well as those with an interest in such research. IAGLR members encompass all scientific disciplines with a common interest in the management of large lake ecosystems on many levels. It advances its mandate in part by communicating the research of its members through the annual Conference on Great Lakes Research and other lake-level meetings, as well as its highly respected Journal of Great Lakes Research.

About the Council of the Great Lakes Region

The Council of the Great Lakes Region is a member-run, binational nonprofit organization that is dedicated to deepening the United States-Canada relationship in the Great Lakes Region. Its focus is on creating a stronger and more dynamic culture of collaboration in harnessing the region’s economic strengths and assets, improving the well-being and prosperity of the Region’s citizens, and protecting the Great Lakes for future generations. It achieves this mandate by conducting evidenced-based policy research, connecting diverse perspectives at events like the Great Lakes Economic Forum, and acting as a strong voice for the region’s varied economic, social, and environmental interests.

For more information, contact:

Mark Fisher
President and CEO
Council of the Great Lakes Region
613-668-2044 /

Paul Sibley
International Association for Great Lakes Research
734-498-2007 /

21 May


2019 e.Builders Forum in Niagara Falls to Focus on Strengthening Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

May 21, 2019 | By |

The International Business Innovation Association (InBIA) partners with the Niagara Global Tourism Institute (NGTI) and the Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR) to share contemporary ecosystem building practices, particularly under the lens of multi-jurisdictional clusters and collaboration, diversity, and inclusion.

Niagara Falls, NY – The International Business Innovation Association (InBIA), a global network for entrepreneurship centers, will be hosting their 2019 Ecosystem Builders (e.Builders) Forum from October 3-4 at the NGTI’s new TReC incubator in Niagara Falls, New York in partnership with CGLR.

The e.Builders Forum is a two-day conference that features workshops and interactive discussions, led and facilitated by vetted industry leaders, to empower entrepreneurial ecosystem builders with solutions for their communities’ economic growth. The third annual e.Builders Forum will be held in Niagara Falls, New York, in a region that has been renowned for cross-border collaboration across a number of high-growth sectors and its effective approach through private-public partnerships for entrepreneurial development, enabling sustainable economic revitalization. According to Business View Magazine, the collaborative efforts of the Great Lakes’ stakeholders towards infrastructure redevelopment and regional rebranding have driven intentional, environmentally friendly economic renewal for Niagara Falls.

“The binational Great Lakes economic region, shared by eight U.S. states and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec, is North America’s economic engine and increasingly a global hub of innovation across a wide range of high-growth sectors,” said Mark Fisher, President and CEO, Council of the Great Lakes Region. “The e.Builders Forum presents an opportunity to showcase the region’s innovation potential, clusters, and opportunities for domestic, North American, and global entrepreneurs and innovators to explore the region’s economic advantages and the benefits of connecting to innovation ecosystems on both sides of the border.”

“The NGTI’s partnership with InBIA and the CGLR to host the e.Builders Forum at TReC recognizes the immense potential for economic and social revitalization in Niagara Falls, NY,” said Pat Whalen, Director, Niagara Global Tourism Institute. “Harnessing the strong international brand of Niagara Falls and the global impact of the Great Lakes region, we are elated to bring together thought leaders and industry innovators from around the world. We’re looking forward to learning about best practices and experiences to build the foundation for sustained and equitable growth.”

InBIA Senior Vice President of Strategy & Partnerships Andrea Wesser-Brawner, discusses the intentional co-location of the forum with the Great Lakes’ ecosystem clusters. “The goal of this year’s e.Builders Forum is to showcase how to best do ecosystem development around cluster specialization,” said Wesser-Brawner. “The Great Lakes region has repeatedly demonstrated that they have an aptitude for building cluster-specific ecosystems—specifically healthcare, tourism, and photonics. Our partners provide a wealth of knowledge surrounding replicable, inclusive practices that can create a foundation for an attractive entrepreneurial community anywhere in the world.”

The 2019 e.Builders Forum will explore how to efficiently activate entrepreneurship centers and regional diversity to uplift the entrepreneurial profile of an ecosystem. The first day of workshops will encompass solutions for differentiating an entrepreneurship center in a crowded ecosystem and encouraging diversity and inclusion; there will additionally be a special workshop geared towards developing a variety of tools and skillsets for those who are venturing into ecosystem building. The last day will highlight four different tracks of roundtable discussions for participants to choose from, which are: supporting second stage companies and gazelles, encouraging diversity and inclusion, building industry clusters, and the fundamentals of ecosystem building.

Following the e.Builders Forum, InBIA will lead potential and current ecosystem builders in two additional days of specialty training courses designed to complement the innovation leaders’ newly acquired resources. Some of these courses include Entrepreneurship Center Management (ECM) Course Three: Building Profitable Programs That Serve Entrepreneurs and ECM Course Four: Space Design, Software, and Other Ways to Streamline Operations; an Advanced Mentor Development Workshop, which will be officially premiered in the fall; Building Successful University Entrepreneurship Centers; An Ecosystem Development Workshop: Build Your Community Framework to Accelerate Regional Collaboration; and more.

About the International Business Innovation Association

InBIA is a global nonprofit with over 1,300 members that lead entrepreneurship centers in 62 countries. For over 30 years, InBIA has provided industry best practices through education while enabling collaboration, mentorship, peer-based learning and the sharing of innovative ideas for entrepreneurs across the globe. InBIA is the premier organization for business incubators, accelerators, coworking spaces, and other entrepreneurship centers.

About the Council of the Great Lakes Region

The Council of the Great Lakes Region was established in 2013. It is incorporated as a non-profit corporation in Canada and as a 501c6 trade association and 501c3 public charity in the United States. A binational, non-partisan, member-driven organization, the Council was launched to create a stronger and more dynamic culture of collaboration between the United States and Canada in the Great Lakes Region in order to find new ways of harnessing the region’s economic strengths and assets, improving the well-being and prosperity of the region’s citizens, and protecting the environment for future generations.

About the Niagara Global Tourism Institute

The Western New York Regional Economic Development Council recently identified tourism as a key driver for the steadily developing Western New York economy. The Niagara Global Tourism Institute (NGTI) was established in September of 2014, thanks to the financial support of the Western New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board. The impetus for the NGTI’s formation is to foster collaborative partnerships throughout the Western New York community to improve the visitor experience and the industry’s competitiveness in the global marketplace. Utilizing the strength and expertise of Niagara University, the NGTI creates programs concentrated within their 4 pillars of Research, Workforce Development, Technology, and Entrepreneurship (Business Incubation).

For general press-related questions, please contact:

Andrea Wesser-Brawner at
Mark Fisher at
Patrick Whalen at

09 Apr


Great Lakes Plastics Forum: Solutions for a Sustainable Future

April 9, 2019 | By |

Plastics are one of the most revolutionary innovations of the modern world. They play a critical role in shaping our economy and our daily lives. However, the way in which plastics are used, managed and disposed of, can pose significant challenges for the environment and for our health.

This report presents highlights from the Great Lakes Plastics Forum, hosted by Pollution Probe, the Council of the Great Lakes Region and the Clean Water Foundation, on October 11, 2018,which sought to address issues related to plastic waste and improper disposal in the Great Lakes Region, with a focus on Ontario and Canada.

View Report

09 Feb


Great Lakes Economic Forum 2018: Montreal

February 9, 2018 | By |

The Council of the Great Lakes Region is proud to host its fourth Great Lakes Economic Forum in Montréal, Québec from May 03-05, 2018. Read More