An idea that has been explored for several years has now advanced to a legislative initiative in Washington. Representative Darcy Kaptur (D-Ohio). During the March “Great Lakes Week” staged by the Great Lakes Commission, the congresswoman introduced a bill establishing and funding the Great Lakes Authority (GLA).
The Great Lakes Authority would serve as a federal entity dedicated exclusively to advancing solutions to the challenges faced by the eight states of Great Lakes region – Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Together, these states contain the core of the United States’ commercial and defense industrial base, as well as the largest freshwater system anywhere on Earth, stated a press release.
“The Great Lakes region is the industrial workhorse that powers America,” Ms. Kaptur said. “By investing in workforce development, innovative energy technologies and manufacturing processes, and responsible stewardship of our precious Great Lakes ecosystem – the Great Lakes Authority will unleash the Heartland’s full potential for this 21st century.”
According to the bill, the GLA would promote the region’s economic interests, including protecting the Great Lakes, advancing the workforce, financing clean energy and green infrastructure, and expanding the manufacturing and industrial capabilities of the region.
The Great Lakes Authority Act would provide the GLA with a budget of $30 million beginning in fiscal year 2023 and $50 million in subsequent years.
Co-sponsors of the bill introduced on March 17 included Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Bobby Rush (D-IL), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Dan Kildee (D-MI), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Joe Morelle (D-NY) and Haley Stevens (D-MI).
“We appreciate Congresswoman Kaptur’s leadership in pursuing the development of a Great Lakes Authority,” Greater Cleveland Partnership President and CEO Baiju R. Shah said. “The Authority can be a catalyst to drive regional economic growth, broaden regional prosperity, and protect the world’s largest source of freshwater.”
“By creating the Great Lakes Authority, the federal government can now become a partner in the economic restoration of the Great Lakes region,” said American Great Lakes Ports Association Executive Director Steve Fisher.
The GLA would be composed of nine members – a chairperson appointed by the President and approved by the Senate, and one individual from each of the eight Great Lakes states appointed by the governor of that state. Members would serve five-year terms.
(Great Lakes Commission photo of Frankfort lighthouse in Lake Michigan)