URC Kicks Off Five-City ‘Blue Economy’ Tour

HARRISON TWP. — The Michigan University Research Corridor, the joint venture of the state’s three major research universities, has kicked off a five-city tour to discuss the economic development implications of Michigan’s most defining asset — fresh water.

The URC, an alliance between Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University, held the discussion at Lake St. Clair Metropark, meeting with leaders from state and local government and higher education to discuss the impact of water-related research on the local and state economy.

The discussion focused in part on the Huron to Erie Alliance for Research and Training, which works to improve the ecosystems of Lakes Huron and Erie and the quality of life for the people who use them. HEART is a collaborative effort between Wayne State University, Macomb Community College, Huron-Clinton Metroparks and Macomb County that is setting up research centers at Lake St. Clair Metropark and Belle Isle.

Attending the event were Jeff Mason, URC executive director; John McCulloch, Huron-Clinton Metroparks director; Carol Miller, Wayne State professor and HEART project leader; Ed Wolking, Detroit Regional Chamber executive vice president; Jim Jacobs, Macomb Community College president; and Jon Allan, Office of the Great Lakes director.

Mason said the focus of the tour is ”protecting and promoting Michigan’s great freshwater resources. As we continue our five -city tour to other areas of the state, we hope to highlight the importance of the blue economy and the fact that one in five Michigan jobs is tied to having good and plentiful water.”

The URC universities received nearly $300 million in awards for water-related research and outreach from 2009 to 2013, according to the “Innovating for the Blue Economy” report commissioned by the URC from Anderson Economic Group. The report was released at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference in May.

In addition to R&D, the three URC universities each year produce more than 3,400 graduates prepared to analyze and find solutions to water-related issues in academia, government and the private sector, bringing new talent and energy to the field. Nearly 40 percent of those graduates earned advanced degrees, according to the report. Michigan ranked fourth in the nation in the percentage of jobs associated with industries related to water, at 718,700.

Wolking noted that clean, fresh water supports not only quality of life, but Michigan’s economy, from farms to manufacturers to the tourism trade.

Other stops for the Blue Economy tour are planned in Houghton, Muskegon, the Bay City-Saginaw area and Traverse City.

More at http://urcmich.org.

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