What does the future of the Great Lakes Region look like?
We tend to forget that we are part of a vital region that has everything a region needs to succeed. Consisting of Ontario and Quebec along with eight other U.S. States, the region is an economic powerhouse that produces $4.6 trillion GDP per year as of 2009 – if it were a country, it would be ranked the third largest GDP in the world after the U.S. and Japan! It is rich in human capital, talent, and natural resources. The region contributes $180 billion to Canada-U.S. trade and its Great Lakes represents 21% of the world’s freshwater stores. So, the region looks pretty good, right?
Forty students from the School of Public Policy & Governance at the University of Toronto and the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan will be collaborating this weekend to ask themselves this question at the 3rd annual Ford-SPPG Conference. Using the Mowat Centre’s The Vital Commons report, they will be challenged to address the leadership, information-sharing and advocacy gaps that threaten the region’s ability to effectively tackle its challenges and capitalize on its significant opportunities. Some say that regional collaboration is required to overcome these gaps and recommend that a Great Lakes Partnership Council be created. However, where would one start?
This is an ambitious but exciting challenge, and we expect that many great ideas will be brought forth. As the interests of our Canadian students conflict with our American counterparts, we anticipate heated debates and collaboration will only challenge ideas to be more creative and strategic. Perhaps the future of the Great Lakes Region may be determined over this weekend!
To start this exciting conference off, we will be joined by Laura Dawson, President of Dawson Strategic, and Jeffrey Izzo, Chief of Political and Economic Affairs from the US Consulate in Toronto, at our reception on Friday, March 23 at 6:00pm at the School of Public Policy and Governance. All students and faculty are invited to join us at the reception!
We will be actively posting Twitter updates and photos throughout the conference. To follow the events and activities, visit our website: http://fordsppgconference.wordpress.com/