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30 Jun

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Great Lakes, Great Minds: CGLR 2020 Report & Agenda for Cross-Border Skills Development, Innovation & Entrepreneurship

June 30, 2020 | By |

The Council of the Great Lakes Region released its 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, which was funded by the United States Mission in Canada, on June 18, 2020.

“The Ontario government welcomes the Great Lakes, Great Minds report,” said the Honourable Ross Romano, Ontario’s Minister of Colleges and Universities. “A changing economy has created numerous collective challenges for each of us in the Great Lakes region. Our success as states and provinces hinges upon our ability to produce and attract talent, to take advantage of scientific discoveries, and to ensure our employers can thrive in both modern day and future economies. Advanced education, research and innovation is at the heart of this agenda and while we each boast incredible world renowned strengths within this sector, today’s report highlights an opportunity for us to work together, with a common goal, to bring together our individual strengths so that we may triumph over our collective challenges.”

The report, which I co-authored with John Austin, Director of the Michigan Economic Center and Senior Non-Resident Fellow with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Brookings Institution, highlights the strength of the region’s world-class teaching and research institutions and the role they can and must play in positioning the region to compete and win globally and ensuring its long-term competitiveness and development.

“This initiative promotes shared goals of economic prosperity and job creation by fostering collaboration that makes North America more competitive in the global economy,” said Greg Stanford, U.S. Consul General Toronto. “The Great Lakes, Great Minds report presents a way forward for supercharging cross-border institutional collaborations at a critical time in modernizing the United States-Canada economic partnership.”

The report outlines a set of practical recommendations and a framework for facilitating and funding cross-border partnerships and programs between higher education institutions to help companies address the widening talent gap in the region and to develop the future workforce, advance the region as a global hub of applied science and advanced innovation, and to connect business incubators and accelerators across the border.

The Great Lakes region faces significant talent, innovation, and entrepreneurship pressures. Leveraging the region’s dense network of higher education institutions, we must facilitate a new decade of cross-border partnerships so that the Great Lakes can address these socio-economic risks and catapult ahead in the new economy.”

The full report can be downloaded at https://councilgreatlakesregion.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Great-Lakes_Great-Minds-Paper_June-5_Release_Final.pdf.

About the Council of the Great Lakes Region

The Council of the Great Lakes Region is a 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 / mark@councilgreatlakesregion.org

30 Jun

By

Creating the Circular Economy in the Great Lakes Region: Lessons from the Field

June 30, 2020 | By |

The silver-lining in the imposed quarantine for Covid-19 is making my way through my reading list—and not just giving it a cursory look, but really looking at it, which has led to a new level of appreciation for the truly creative, innovative work being done by leading companies committed to sustainability. Top of the list was “Creating the Circular Economy in the Great Lakes Region” by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and Navigant, a Guidehouse Company.

While there are five generally accepted business models for the Circular Economy, the primary models in this report are Circular Value Chain (designing products and assets with low-footprint material selection and minimized resource use throughout the life cycle) and Recovery and Reuse (recovering and treating wastes and byproducts for reuse as inputs or cascading for other uses).

The report looks at three materials streams—steel, plastics, and pulp and paper—and identifies both the potential economic savings and environmental savings as measured in tons of CO2 by 2050 (the calculations made by Navigant are outlined in detail in the report). The economic savings range from $4.4B to $5.0B, with $2.5B from reducing steel scrap and $1.7B from mechanical recycling of plastics. The environmental savings range from 25 million tCO2 to 120 million tCO2, a very broad range, and in the latter, more than half attributable to plastics. (The ranges are based on ‘partial circularity’ and ‘ambitious circularity’).

The report summarizes five actions for scaling the circular economy in the Great Lakes Region, which are not particularly surprising, but it is helpful to have them so clearly articulated:

  • Embrace the broader aspects of circularity (it’s a whole new world of opportunity not just savings)
  • Encourage partnership and collaboration (looking first to your own potential value/supply chain)
  • Align the circular economy with mainstream practices (read, align it with core business processes)
  • Develop traceable actions and targets (even if you have to set them yourselves)
  • Develop incentive mechanisms (it’s helpful when good behavior is rewarded)

More insightful were the actual examples and case studies across the three industries, and lessons gleaned from that. In an analysis of waste, which the study cites, across four cities in the region, 60 percent of the waste is industrial; 40 percent is consumer, which surprised me, because much of the of the focus around the circular economy today seems to be heavily weighed on infrastructure and habits which enable consumer recycling. Is post-industrial waste the overlooked but ‘lower hanging’ fruit? Three case studies in this report highlighted the power of using post-industrial waste and the indication that it could be scaled faster and more efficiently. This is demonstrable ‘industrial symbiosis,’ where the byproduct/waste of one industry serves as raw materials for another.

  • Schnitzer Steel has approximately 100 metal and recycling facilities throughout the U.S. which diverts and reuses millions of tons of materials—avoiding burying used metal and the need to dig up new. Through Schnitzer’s Pick-n-Pull brand, it operates an industry-leading chain of over 50 self-service used auto parts stores providing millions of recovered, affordably priced auto parts to retail and wholesale customers on an annual basis. And in it’s extremely efficient manufacturing plants, it also actively markets the by-products of its processes (EAF dust and slag) to other companies which find value in those materials.
  • Steelcase recycles plastic film in their plants by bundling it and sending it to Trex, a major manufacturer of wood-alternative decking, railings and other outdoor items made from recycled materials. Notably, this started locally, in West Michigan and required collaboration internally as well as externally. It took a wholesale change in Steelcase operations to collect, bale, and transport the material to Trex, which involved buy-in from multiple internal stakeholders like Steelcase’s logistics, materials, plant managers, and sustainability teams.
  • Kohler is featured in the study with both examples in steel and plastic. Engine housings were identified early as a potential to replace virgin plastic with recycled, but numerous attempts to do that with post-consumer plastic was not effective. Not until the company used post-industrial regrind was it able to get the quality of material that ensured the end product as well as reducing the risk to damage equipment.

These are all particularly good examples of creating and/or leveraging existing value chains, places where companies are quite used to partnering and collaborating with one another, and aligning with mainstream practices (in other words, what they want to accomplish anyway).

In addition, all of these companies had strong leaders who established—and enforced—targets.  Setting clear goals and measuring progress are essential to the advancement of the circular economy.  It’s helpful to have external incentive mechanisms and recognition as well, of course, like the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) who are issuing new guideline for circular this month.  Such standards enable greater accountability and transparency for investors, thereby rewarding companies with good ESG performance a lower cost of capital.  But local rewards and incentives can also be powerful, especially if co-created with the companies most proactive in embracing the behaviors and processes for a circular economy.

The other three as identified by Accenture and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development are Lifetime extension (extending the lifetime of products and assets through a greater focus on maintenance, upgrade, and repair, as well as reverse logistics, product take back, and remanufacturing); Service models (offering products as a service through pay-per-use models and employing sharing and leasing platforms to maximize utilization of products and assets); and Digital Platforms (dematerializing by replacing physical services with virtual).


The January 2020 report was made possible from contributions from Steelcase, Kohler, Whirlpool, the American Forrest and Paper Association, and the Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers.  It was further supported by the Sustainability and Circular Economy Shapers and Supporters of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation: Dow, DSM, and Kroger. Link to the full report here.

The post was first published at PYXERA Global and re-published here with permission.  https://www.pyxeraglobal.org/creating-circular-economy-great-lakes-region/

Permission from PYXERA Global VP Katie Levey 6/10/20

30 Jun

By

$2.2 Billion Requested of Canadian Government to Address Flooding and Contamination in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence

June 30, 2020 | By |

Investment to foster a new green regional economy

On June 10, 2020, The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Collaborative released an Action Plan to Protect the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence, 2020-2030.

The Action Plan calls on the Canadian Federal Government to fund a forward-looking $2.2 billion 10-year roadmap to tackle some of the greatest environmental challenges facing this region. It also offers an effective means to kick-start the region’s economy today that is severely weakened by COVID-19 and to create long-lasting jobs in a new green economy. 

“For the first time ever, advocates, experts and indigenous groups from across the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence region have spoken with one voice, calling on the Government of Canada for a $2.2 billion investment to protect this massive and remarkable ecosystem where almost 20 million Canadians live and that binds us together by supporting our health and prosperity,” said Jean Cinq-Mars co-chair of the Great Lakes St Lawrence Collaborative and former Commissioner of Sustainable Development of Quebec.  

Action Plan 2020-2030 was developed with input from hundreds of experts and stakeholders in Quebec and Ontario, who forged a consensus on the investments needed to address some of the greatest challenges facing this exceptional but fragile ecological region. These include shoreline flooding and other climate change impacts, outdated wastewater infrastructure, exposure to toxic pollutants in the water, agricultural and urban runoff that feeds harmful algal blooms, and chronically contaminated beaches. Investments would benefit indigenous and non-indigenous coastal communities, such as Thunder Bay, Fort William First Nation, Chatham-Kent, Toronto, Clarington, Montreal, Kahnawake, Adanak Wolinak, Quebec City, Pessamit, Gespeg, and Sainte Flavie, Carleton-sur-mer, the Magdalen Islands among many others.  

Moreover, the Action Plan recommends innovative institutional arrangements to ensure alignment and collaboration amongst federal, provincial and local authorities and organizations, including: 

  • A cross-departmental federal task force to ensure financing and alignment efforts 
  • A Great Lakes Saint Lawrence Commission to coordinate federal, provincial, and local implementation of all recommendations 
  • An indigenous Great Lakes Saint Lawrence organization; 
  • Implementation teams 
  • Research and innovation centers and technical assistance teams to build knowledge and capacity throughout the region 
  • Regular oversight by the Federal Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development. 

“The US has already committed $2B over the past 10 years to Great Lakes protection,” said Gord Miller, co-chair of the Great Lakes St., Lawrence Collaborative and former Environment Commissioner of Ontario, “Canada needs to catch up, by putting money on the table to protect this globally significant remarkable ecosystem.” 

To learn more, contact Mark@councilgreatlakesregion.org

18 Jun

By

Bold Agenda for Cross-Border Skills Development, Innovation & Entrepreneurship in North America’s Great Lakes Region Released

June 18, 2020 | By |

Immediate Release

Cleveland, Ohio and Toronto, Ontario – Today, the Council of the Great Lakes Region released its 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, which was funded by the United States Mission in Canada.

“The Ontario government welcomes the Great Lakes, Great Minds report,” said the Honourable Ross Romano, Ontario’s Minister of Colleges and Universities. “A changing economy has created numerous collective challenges for each of us in the Great Lakes region. Our success as states and provinces hinges upon our ability to produce and attract talent, to take advantage of scientific discoveries, and to ensure our employers can thrive in both modern day and future economies. Advanced education, research and innovation is at the heart of this agenda and while we each boast incredible world renowned strengths within this sector, today’s report highlights an opportunity for us to work together, with a common goal, to bring together our individual strengths so that we may triumph over our collective challenges.”

The report, co-authored with John Austin, Director of the Michigan Economic Center and Senior Non-Resident Fellow with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Brookings Institution, highlights the strength of the region’s world-class teaching and research institutions and the role they can and must play in positioning the region to compete and win globally and ensuring its long-term competitiveness and development.

“This initiative promotes shared goals of economic prosperity and job creation by fostering collaboration that makes North America more competitive in the global economy,” said Greg Stanford, U.S. Consul General Toronto. “The Great Lakes, Great Minds report presents a way forward for supercharging cross-border institutional collaborations at a critical time in modernizing the United States-Canada economic partnership.”

The report outlines a set of practical recommendations and a framework for facilitating and funding cross-border partnerships and programs between higher education institutions to help companies address the widening talent gap in the region and to develop the future workforce, advance the region as a global hub of applied science and advanced innovation, and to connect business incubators and accelerators across the border.

“The Great Lakes region faces significant talent, innovation, and entrepreneurship pressures,” said Mark Fisher, President and CEO, Council of the Great Lakes Region. “Leveraging the region’s dense network of higher education institutions, we must facilitate a new decade of cross-border partnerships so that the Great Lakes can address these socio-economic risks and catapult ahead in the new economy.”

The full report can be downloaded at https://councilgreatlakesregion.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Great-Lakes_Great-Minds-Paper_June-5_Release_Final.pdf.

About the Council of the Great Lakes Region

The Council of the Great Lakes Region is a 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

Mark Fisher
President and CEO
Council of the Great Lakes Region
613-668-2044 / mark@councilgreatlakesregion.org

11 Jun

By

Federal Government asked $2.2 billion to Address Flooding and Contamination in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence

June 11, 2020 | By |

Investment to foster a new green regional economy

Ottawa, CANADA, June 10, 2020 – The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Collaborative released today Action Plan to Protect the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence, 2020-2030.

The Action Plan calls on the federal government to fund a forward-looking $2.2 billion 10-year roadmap to tackle some of the greatest environmental challenges facing this region. It also offers an effective means to kick-start the region’s economy today that is severely weakened by COVID-19 and to create long-lasting jobs in a new green economy. 

“For the first time ever, advocates, experts and indigenous groups from across the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence region have spoken with one voice, calling on the Government of Canada for a $2.2 billion investment to protect this massive and remarkable ecosystem where almost 20 million Canadians live and that binds us together by supporting our health and prosperity,” said Jean Cinq-Mars co-chair of the Great Lakes St Lawrence Collaborative and former Commissioner of Sustainable Development of Quebec.  

Action Plan 2020-2030 was developed with input from hundreds of experts and stakeholders in Quebec and Ontario, who forged a consensus on the investments needed to address some of the greatest challenges facing this exceptional but fragile ecological region. These include shoreline flooding and other climate change impacts, outdated wastewater infrastructure, exposure to toxic pollutants in the water, agricultural and urban runoff that feeds harmful algal blooms, and chronically contaminated beaches. Investments would benefit indigenous and non-indigenous coastal communities, such as Thunder Bay, Fort William First Nation, Chatham-Kent, Toronto, Clarington, Montreal, Kahnawake, Adanak Wolinak, Quebec City, Pessamit, Gespeg, and Sainte Flavie, Carleton-sur-mer, the Magdalen Islands among many others.  

Moreover, the Action Plan recommends innovative institutional arrangements to ensure alignment and collaboration amongst federal, provincial and local authorities and organizations, including: 

  • A cross-departmental federal task force to ensure financing and alignment efforts 
  • A Great Lakes Saint Lawrence Commission to coordinate federal, provincial, and local implementation of all recommendations 
  • An indigenous Great Lakes Saint Lawrence organization; 
  • Implementation teams 
  • Research and innovation centers and technical assistance teams to build knowledge and capacity throughout the region 
  • Regular oversight by the Federal Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development. 

“The US has already committed $2B over the past 10 years to Great Lakes protection,” said Gord Miller, co-chair of the Great Lakes St., Lawrence Collaborative and former Environment Commissioner of Ontario, “Canada needs to catch up, by putting money on the table to protect this globally significant remarkable ecosystem.” 

To learn more or to arrange an interview please contact:

Mark Fisher, President and CEO, Council of the Great Lakes Region, mark@councilgreatlakesregion.org / 613-668-2044