Our Why

Our Mandate for the Great Lakes Region

We are on a mission to foster a new era of economic growth, environmental protection, and individual well-being by connecting diverse interests and sectors to make this the most prosperous, innovative, sustainable, livable, and welcoming region in the world.



Global economic forces are pushing the regional economy further behind.

The binational Great Lakes economic region is North America’s economic engine and has been a key driver of economic growth, job creation, and innovation in both countries. While this megaregion boasts many advantages, the Great Lakes, as a region, lacks a coherent regional framework for prosperity, growth, and competitiveness, a plan for fully harnessing and leveraging its economic strengths and assets so that it can compete and win in the new economy.


The skills gap is widening.

Today’s tech-driven, knowledge economy rewards the mobilization of high skilled workers. Ultimately, the economy grows where talent congregates, businesses are started, communities are built, and innovations are discovered. As new occupations are created almost overnight as other jobs disappear, the Great Lakes has struggled to keep pace with the advanced talent and skills required to succeed in a rapidly changing economy.


Facilitating efficient trade and travel and securing the border remains a challenge.

Before COVID-19, over $2 billion worth of goods and some 400,000 people cross the United States – Canada border daily. While new approaches for managing and securing the border have been adopted by both countries, such as multimodal preclearance and Shiprider, if the binational Great Lakes megaregion is to compete globally, the implementation of these frameworks needs to occur at a faster pace and expanded as ports of entry and border management systems are modernized.


Environmental and ecological threats to the Great Lakes are growing.

The Great Lakes, an inland sea, are a vital freshwater ecosystem and public commons. Years of investment in Great Lakes science, restoration, and protection have made the lakes cleaner. But new pressures have emerged on top of legacy problems, from agricultural runoff, plastics pollution and remediating Areas of Concern, to urban runoff and sanitary sewer overflows, climate change, and sprawling development.


Critical infrastructure is aging.

The emergence of the Great Lakes as a megaregion was the direct result of the socioeconomic infrastructure that was built over decades to support fast growing cities, an interlocked economy, and the ability of firms to do business with the rest of the world. As public debt rises at every level, the region’s failure to adopt alternative approaches to planning, procuring, and financing Great Lakes infrastructure has put the region further behind its global competitors.


Public health, safety and emergency systems are inadequate for large-scale crises.

The Great Lakes region is not immune from natural and man-made threats, from flooding, forest fires and pollution spills, to power outages, risks to critical infrastructure, and now pandemics. There are numerous federal agencies that operate in the domains of public health and safety, emergency response, and infrastructure protection. But the absence of horizontal coordination among regional, state, provincial, and local counterparts, makes the region’s populations and businesses more vulnerable and less resilient.

The region’s long-term competitiveness and sustainability demands collaborative action.

We invite you to join us in confronting the most pressing economic, social, and environmental issues facing the Great Lakes region, and building the future of the region together, today.

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