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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

15 May


The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development and the Council of the Great Lakes Region Announce Partnership

May 15, 2019 | By |

Both organizations plan to leverage their respective strengths, networks, and activities to deepen Indigenous trade, investment, and innovation across Indian Country

Toronto, Ontario and Cleveland, Ohio – The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (The National Center) is pleased to partner with the Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR) and work together on ways to strengthen Indigenous trade, investment, entrepreneurship, and innovation across the Great Lakes Region, as well as focusing on building greater inter-tribal business and mobility across the border established by the United States and Canada. The two organizations recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) laying out these goals and the partnership.

Both organizations plan to conduct, advance, and promote policy research and programs that encourage Indigenous trade and business, as well as organizing and hosting regional conferences, developing proposals to securing funding for joint research, programs, and events focused on Great lakes Indigenous issues of mutual interest. In addition, this partnership will work to elevate awareness through their respective publications and online platforms, such as the CGLR’s Great Lakes Ready business portal and the National Center’s Native Edge online business ecosystem.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Council of the Great Lakes Region and are excited to begin working together towards creating greater Indigenous trade between the United States and Canada,” said Chris James, President and CEO of the National Center. “This partnership will allow us to enhance regional collaboration and cross-border integration, creating the opportunity to improve the well-being of Indian Country’s communities, as well as their economic strengths and standings.”

James recently spoke at the Great Lakes Economic Forum in Cleveland, where he outlined some of the challenges and opportunities for cross-border and inter-tribal trade.

“The Great Lakes economic region is a dynamic, international marketplace, and is the traditional territory of numerous tribes whose history and culture are defined by the boundary separating the United States and Canada in the region,” said Mark Fisher, President and CEO of the Council. “Through this unique partnership, our focus will be to deepen inter-tribal trade and investment in the region and support Indigenous entrepreneurs and innovators who are trying to compete and win, not only in the Great Lakes economy, but also around the world with the help of other organizations like the International Inter-Tribal Trade and Investment Organisation.”

For more information:

Mark Fisher
613-668-2044 /

Chris James
480.545.1298 /

08 May


Winners of the first Great Lakes Changemaker Award Announced

May 8, 2019 | By |

Cleveland, Ohio – At the fifth Great Lakes Economic Forum, which is being hosted in Cleveland from May 6-8, the Council of the Great Lakes Region had the distinct pleasure of presenting its first Great Lakes Changemaker Awards to the following recipients:

  • SC Johnson
  • Congressman Dave Joyce, 14th District, Ohio
  • Ambassador Bruce Heyman (retired) and Vicki Heyman
  • Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation
  • Swim Drink Fish Canada

The Great Lakes region, straddling the United States-Canada border and shared by eight states and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec, is North America’s economic engine and a global hub for manufacturing, learning and innovation, financial services, food production, and trade. In fact, with roughly US$6.0 trillion in economic activity, if the region were a country, it would represent the third largest economy in the world.

With 20 per cent of the worlds surface freshwater, the Great Lakes, or North America’s inland sea, makeup a globally significant ecosystem. They sustain thousands of unique habitats, plants, and animals. The lakes also provide drinking water to over 40 million Americans and Canadians living in the Great Lakes watershed, and support the regional economy, from marine commerce and hydropower, to fishing and recreational boating.

The Council created the Great Lakes Changemaker Award in 2019 to recognize individuals, companies, nonprofit organizations, or academics in the region that are leading the way in strengthening the long-term competitiveness and sustainability of the binational Great Lakes Region, and who are playing a leadership role internationally on a range of economic and environmental issues.


“The binational Great Lakes are a crucial economic region and watershed for the United States and Canada. Through the new Great Lakes Changemaker Award, the Council is pleased to be able to recognize people, organizations, and companies each year who share our vision of creating the most prosperous, innovative, sustainable, livable, and welcoming region in the world.” – Mark Fisher, President and CEO, Council of the Great Lakes Region

“As environmentalists and family business owners, my parents believed that individuals, nonprofits, government, and the business community must work together towards sustainability: balancing the environmental, economic, and social interests of current and future generations. My parents envisioned clean Great Lakes for their grandchildren to enjoy, and sustainability is especially critical in the Great Lakes region, which represents 20% of the world’s fresh surface water, is the engine of a $6 trillion international economy, and is home to over 40 million people. It is an honor for us to receive this inaugural award.” – John Erb, CEO and Chair, Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation

“The Great Lakes are vitally important natural resources that impact the health, economy, and quality of life for tens of millions of people in the U.S. and Canada. We are deeply appreciative to the Council of the Great Lakes Region, both for the honor of this award and for their tireless leadership and support of the Great Lakes region’s ecological and economic recovery. When leaders from all levels of government, industry, academia and the non-profit sector collaborate and find meaningful solutions together through the Council, great things can happen.” – Former United States Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman and Vicki Heyman

“A lifelong resident of America’s northern coast, I have never been shy about my support for the Great Lakes. As a father, I shared the importance of protecting the Lakes with my children, and now as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, I have the honor of advocating for them in Congress. The Great Lakes are an invaluable natural resource and economic powerhouse, and I am proud to fight to ensure we make the investments necessary to treat them as the national treasure they are. I am humbled to be one of the recipients of the first-ever Great Lakes Changemaker Award and am eager to live up to the title!” – Congressman Dave Joyce, 14th District, Ohio

“Helping ensure a strong, vibrant Great Lakes region is a part of SC Johnson’s commitment to making our world a better place. The long-term economic, social and environmental health of this region is incredibly important to not only North America, but the world, and SC Johnson is proud to play a role in this vital effort. On behalf of our Chairman and CEO Fisk Johnson and everyone at SC Johnson, we thank the Council of the Great Lakes Region for this prestigious recognition.” – Kelly M. Semrau, Senior Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs, Communication and Sustainability for SC Johnson.

“Over 40-million people rely on the Great Lakes for drinking water, employment, recreation, tourism and economic prosperity. This watershed is the lifeline for so many of us. The Great Lakes are our Rocky Mountains. It’s a true honour to receive the Great Lakes Changemaker award. Swim Drink Fish continues to strive for a swimmable, drinkable, fishable future.” – Mark Mattson, Founder and Waterkeeper, Swim Drink Fish

About the Great Lakes Economic Forum

Launched in 2015 in Chicago by the Council of the Great Lakes Region, the annual Great Lakes Economic Forum is quickly becoming the foremost gathering of leaders from all levels of government, industry, academia, and the non-profit sector in the Great Lakes who are committed to finding new ways of creating a more favorable climate for economic growth in the Region while improving the prosperity and well-being of the Region’s citizens and protecting our shared environment for future generations.


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

07 May


SBA & Council of the Great Lakes Region Commit to Area Economic Development & Small Business Success with Strategic Alliance

May 7, 2019 | By |

CLEVELAND–Today Rob Scott, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Great Lakes regional administrator,and Mark Fisher, president & CEO of the Council of the Great Lakes Regionsigned a Strategic Alliance Memorandum at the Great Lakes Economic Forum in Cleveland. The mutual commitment creates a framework in which the federal agency and CGLR will partner on programming and outreach that supports entrepreneurs and small business owners in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
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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