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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Economic Growth and the Great Lakes

Economic Growth and the Role of the Great Lakes Highlight Discussion at Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Detroit Branch Meeting

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
Abraham Lincoln

DETROITThe Great Lakes form the largest surface water system on earth, with 20 percent of the world’s fresh water located right in our backyard. With Michigan at the heart of that system, surrounded by four of the five Great Lakes, the economic impact of water for future economic development was the topic of conversation at an informal meeting held last month at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Detroit Branch.
Emphasizing that water is a resource not a commodity, discussion centered on utilizing this resource as a catalyst for economic development; by adding value through safe and environmentally sensitive industries related to water technologies. This includes incorporating plans for the design, funding and implementation of a robust, vibrant, productive and sustainable aquaculture industry in Michigan.
“We here at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s Detroit Branch truly understand the importance of the Great Lakes to this region. Investment in research that would help to preserve the integrity of the Great Lakes is something that could have a long lasting impact on the economic viability of Michigan as well as the region as a whole,” said Robert G. Wiley, SVP and branch manager at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Detroit Branch. Joining in the exchange of ideas was Paul Traub, research economist of the Federal Reserve Bank, Detroit Branch and Dennis Cawthorne, chairman of the board of the Mackinac Island State Park Commission.
“From my Mackinac Island perspective where I see two of the five Great Lakes intersect, I know firsthand the huge economic impact of this resource. We need to move in new ways to benefit from our unique location in order to both preserve this resource for the future and take advantage of its economic benefits,” Cawthorne emphasized.
Dennis Cawthorne, chairman of the board of the Mackinac Island State Park Commission; Paul Traub, economist at the Detroit Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago; and Robert G. Wiley, SVP and branch manager of the Detroit Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
Making the Case: Economic Growth and Fresh Water
Anyone who lives in Michigan knows that water makes this a special place. “The Great Lakes and their connecting channels, form the largest surface fresh water system on earth. Michigan is at the heart of that system, surrounded by four of the five Great Lakes. Water is what makes Michigan a special place, with more than 3,288 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, 11,000 inland lakes and 36,000 miles of rivers. The Great Lakes represent about one-fifth of the world’s fresh surface water supply, and nine-tenths of the U.S. supply. Environmental stewardship, sustainable economic development and responsible use of the Great Lakes are in the best interest of Michigan, the Great Lakes region, the country and the world,” said Dr. James S. Diana, Director, Michigan Sea Grant, and Professor of Fisheries and Aquaculture at the University of Michigan.
“Investment in research that would help to preserve the integrity of the Great Lakes is something that could have a long lasting impact on the economic viability of Michigan as well as the region as a whole.”
Robert G. Wiley, SVP and Branch Manager
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Detroit Branch
“The Great Lakes is one of the greatest resources on the planet, and effective management of available high quality fresh water for human consumption needs is essential. As an example, new USDA Dietary Guidelines point out that Americans eat only 44 percent of the seafood required for optimal health,” explained Dr. Chris Weeks, Aquaculture Extension Specialist, North Central Region, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, at Michigan State University. “Since wild harvested seafood is considered to be at or near maximum levels, sustainable aquaculture development in Michigan is an opportunity to utilize the precious resources we have, albeit carefully and wisely, to help promote human health and at the same time increase employment opportunities in our state.”
Dr. Frank A. Fear, Senior Associate Dean, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Michigan State University added, “Without question, a primary issue in agriculture is water. Water for food will be a defining issue in the quest to feed the world.”
On October 31, 2011, the world’s population reached 7 billion, and human population continues to increase at a rate that makes food production a critical need for future generations. “According to the United Nations, food production must double by 2050 to feed a growing world population. At the same time, it is estimated that humans are already using 40-50 percent of globally available freshwater, with over 70 percent of that water utilized for agriculture. Centered in the Great Lakes Basin, Michigan is well positioned to significantly increase food production,” noted Kent B. Herrick, president, Aquaculture Research Corp. “This will be technically challenging, to increase scale in a sustainable manner, but Michigan, as one of the most diverse crop producers in the United States, already has strong capabilities to meet this challenge. Aquaculture development will be an important contribution to efficient protein production and integrated with a host of other agriculture advancements, we will expand value creation from our water sources.”
Restoration Leads to Economic Benefits
A recent example that highlights the benefits of ensuring water resources and connecting it to economic growth efforts can be found in the Great Lakes restoration project in Muskegon. A story posted in May on www.healthylakes.org by Jeff Alexander covered a Grand Valley State University research effort; a $10 million shoreline restoration project on Muskegon Lake. It is designed to generate more than $66 million in economic benefits. That’s a 6-to-1 return on investment over a 10-year period, according to the GVSU study.
“The results are clear and we are excited to know that this restoration project will have a significant beneficial economic impact on the community,” said economics professor Paul Isely chairman of the economics department.
The $10 million project is being overseen by the Great Lakes Commission and West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission. According to the new report the project will generate:
  • A $12 million increase in property values
  • Up to $600,000 in new tax revenue annually
  • Over $1 million in new recreational spending annually in Muskegon
  • Nearly 65,000 additional visitors annually
  • $66 million in economic benefits over ten years
  • More than a 6-to-1 return on investment
The restoration project, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, will bring about the removal of 180,000 tons of unnatural fill from the lake, restore several miles of shoreline habitat and advance efforts to heal one of the region’s most abused waterways.
According to the study, the work will make Muskegon Lake more hospitable to birds, fish and people. It will also bolster the economy of a community that has been hit hard by the national recession.
On a broader scale, the Muskegon Lake project highlights the tremendous economic benefits that can be realized by removing toxic mud from Great Lakes harbors, restoring wetlands and fighting invasive species. It also underscores the need for Congress to fully fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
Congress funded the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at $475 million in the 2010 budget and $300 million in the recently passed 2011 budget (a significant victory considering the fact that some U.S. House budgets had the initiative at $225 million).
The Muskegon Lake project builds off of an earlier study by the Brookings Institution found that every $1 spent on Great Lakes restoration creates $2 in economic benefits.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Public Hearing for Walking Trail

This map shows a proposed improvement to an existing walking trail in Rogers City.  The City Council will hold a Public Hearing at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, December 20, 2011 to take comments about the proposed improvement.  The City hopes to clear the trail area of brush and trees to make it more walkable.  Currently, the trail wonders out of the Airport Drive right of way (ROW) and on to private property.  Opening up the path in the ROW will not only make the trail more user friendly but also set it in the public ROW.  The City hopes to accomplish the project for $5,000 or less.

If you have comments on this project, please email mslown@rogerscity.com or come to the Public Hearing.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Rogers City Christmas Band Concert

Terry Wolfgang Habermehl posted the following information:
"Rogers City City Band will be presenting a Christmas concert on Thursday , Dec. 22, 7:30 p.m. at the Rogers City Theater.  Hope to see you there!"

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Safe Routes to School

Here is the Press Release

CONTACT: Jeff Cranson, MDOT Director of Communications, 517-335-3084

MDOT announces Safe Routes to School grants
to 10 schools in four counties

December 13, 2011 -- The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) today announced that 10 Michigan schools in four counties will receive federal Safe Routes to School (SRTS) grants averaging approximately $155,500. The grants will pay for safety improvements and education programs aimed at encouraging students to travel safety between home and school.                                                                                                                                     "These grants will fund sidewalks and infrastructure improvements that encourage children to safely walk and bike to school and enable schools to offer educational programs and safety campaigns," said State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle. "MDOT is proud to work with schools and communities on these initiatives."
            "The grant will help Rogers City provide safe access for all families, not just to school but throughout our community," said Katy Xenakis-Makowski, superintendant/elementary principal/director of special education for Rogers City Area Schools. "The construction of new sidewalks to help protect children from traffic will help ease the minds of parents whose children walk to and from school, sometimes in the dark."
            "We are thrilled to be part of the Safe Routes program at Washington Elementary and our whole team is excited about improvements to the outdated infrastructure in the neighborhood surrounding the school," said Crim Fitness Foundation Active Living Director Lauren Holaly. "These improvements, in combination with education and encouragement, will help create a vibrant neighborhood where healthy kids are using active transportation to get to school."
            Federal SRTS funding enables schools to make infrastructure improvements and offer educational activities and safety campaigns that encourage students to walk and bicycle safely between home and school. MDOT and the Michigan Fitness Foundation partner to work with


MDOT announces Safe Routes to School grants
to 10 schools in four counties
December 13, 2011
Page Two

schools, neighborhoods, students, teachers, parents, school transportation directors and local law enforcement agencies.                                                                                  
            The following projects were awarded funding. They are listed alphabetically by county:
Genesee County
            Washington Elementary School, in partnership with MDOT and the city of Flint, will install sidewalks and crosswalks on Ohio, Missouri, Arlington, Franklin, and Vernon avenues, along with pedestrian countdown signals at the intersection of Vernon Avenue and Davison Road. It also will implement pedestrian and bicycle safety education, walking school bus, and parent patrol programs. The project budget is $331,022.
Muskegon County
            Central Elementary School, in partnership with Laketon Township and the Muskegon County Road Commission, will install sidewalks and crosswalks on Giles and Horton roads and solar flashing beacons on Giles Road. It also will implement a walk-to-school club. The project budget is $265,664.
Newaygo County (two school systems)
            Fremont Middle School, Daisy Brook Elementary School, and Pathfinder Elementary School, in partnership with the city of Fremont, will install sidewalks and crosswalks on Woodrow, Cherry, and Pine streets and Gerber and Mechanic avenues, multi-use nonmotorized paths on Oak Street and Lake Drive, a bicycle lane on Locust Street, and bicycle racks at all three schools. The project budget is $338,754.
            Grant Primary Center, Grant Elementary School, and Grant Middle School, in partnership with the city of Grant, will install sidewalks and crosswalks on Commerce, Lake and Brink streets and Elder Avenue. The project budget is $246,878.
Presque Isle County
            Rogers City Elementary School and Rogers City Middle/High School, in partnership with the city of Rogers City, will install sidewalks and crosswalks on Wenonah Drive, Huron Avenue, and West Erie and State streets, and implement pedestrian and bicycle safety education and encouragement programs. The project budget is $372,736.
           MDOT's role is to administer the federally legislated SRTS program that creates opportunities for collaboration with agencies and partners not traditionally involved with transportation funding. The SRTS program provides educational programs, infrastructure


MDOT announces Safe Routes to School grants
to 10 schools in four counties
December 13, 2011
Page Three

improvements and encouragement activities to help children safely walk and bike to school and increase their physical activity. Funding was established by Congress under the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users of 2005 (SAFETEA-LU). SRTS funding is 100 percent federal, with no local match required. More information is available at online at: www.saferoutesmichigan.org.
MDOT reminds drivers: Snowplows need room to groom.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Good News about Michigan Tourism

News from Travel Michigan's Director, George Zimmermann

Winter is approaching, but good news from our summer season keeps coming in. Use tax and sales tax data from June through September indicates 2011 was one of the best seasons for Michigan hotels in recent years. The total combined sales and use tax collected was $44,104,375 – the second highest of any year since 1999. The Michigan Department of Treasury reports that the total use tax of June-September was $29,561,930 – the highest number in 13 years. August and September also experienced the highest single month collections in recent history, with July numbers close behind.

We are also seeing positive lodging numbers for the fall tourism season; and yet another positive story in the Detroit News about growing hotel occupancy rates. According to Smith Travel Research, in October hotel occupancy in Michigan averaged 58.4 percent, a 5.9 percent increase from the same period last year. Detroit saw a 10.4 percent increase in occupancy rates from October of 2010 and was ranked 13 out of the top 25 U.S. markets. Michigan also continues to outpace the national growth-rate in lodging occupancy.

Combined these numbers help tell the story that Michigan has experienced very strong room sales so far this year. This is great news as we work to build on the success we have already had with the Pure Michigan campaign here in the state as well as regionally and nationally.

And while we are always thankful for good numbers, sometimes it takes a personal story to put it all in perspective. In today’s Tourism Update be sure to watch the incredible story of the Blakemore family from St. Louis, Missouri. As part of their visit to the Today Show with Kathie Lee and Hoda they received a family trip to the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City and a chance to create some great family memories in Pure Michigan.

With the snow starting to fall and the Pure Michigan winter ad campaign gearing up we are excited for the coming winter tourism season here in Michigan. We have placed nearly $1.7 million in winter advertising in Chicago, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Ft. Wayne, Green Bay, South Bend and Toledo, plus Michigan markets for December and January. To quote a famous Christmas carol, it is a most wonderful time of the year.
For more information, contact George Zimmermann at (517) 335-1879

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Lake Huron Predator Diet Study

Here is a report from Jeff Schaeffer of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Great Lakes Science Center: 
The third and final year of the Lake Huron predator diet study has once again been successful.

We still have many frozen samples, but expect that once again anglers were able to again provide about 2,000 stomachs during 2011.
Our total count for three years will be over 7,000, which is almost unheard of in a diet study, especially with large piscivores.

The study has been an unqualified success. We learned (and are still learning) how predators have responded to food web changes in Lake Huron, and study results are already being used in management decisions and as inputs in several models being developed to better understand Lake Huron's aquatic community. Results have been presented at a variety of venues including fishing club meetings, national fishery meetings, and even to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and Michigan's Natural Resources Council. At least two graduate students have used study data as part of their theses, and more will likely use the data over the next few years. In addition, the story of how we came together to achieve these results has been "the talk of the town" in several meetings. The idea that citizens can do great science is topic of discussion among many scientists, but we simply did it.

The data collection part of the study is now over, and we will not collect stomachs during 2012. There are many people who have asked that the study be continued, but we need to move into the next phase with these thoughts in mind.

1. The study is continuing, but we have a huge amount of data to summarize, analyze, and publish. This much effort deserved publication in journals and we need to make sure that happens. This is a full time job that will occupy our time during 2012.

2. We believe strongly that we have already asked too much of you, and we can not ask any more.

3. The Lake Huron fish community has not changed that much over the past three years in that alewife are still scarce and prey biomass is likely low compared to the years prior to 1994, and especially during the 1980's when the previous diet study was performed. Three years of great data given that situation are more than adequate to answer all the questions that this study was designed to answer.

4. We are faced with shrinking budgets, and may not have the resources to fund additional sample processing. Ed and I also have additional responsibilities and new projects that require our time and attention. The new projects are one of the reasons you have not heard much from us over the fishing season.

For all those reasons, it is time to stop collecting new data and devote our attention the data we have. If any of you have stomachs that we have not picked up, please email Ethan Bright (Ebright@usgs.gov) so we can make arrangements to pick them up.

In summary, we can't thank you enough, although I will remind you that I made a wager three years ago at one of the spring workshops. Someone in the audience stated that "I would love to help with this, but we have done this before and we never see any results". My response was this: "if you guys get us enough stomachs for a publishable study, I will present results at your club's spring banquet or meeting". I would have to say that you won that bet, and I don't think that I was ever so happy to lose a wager. So our plan is to share study results as soon as we can, and hopefully begin that process by next spring.

We wish you happy holidays and best of luck for next year's fishing season.



Jeff Schaeffer
USGS Great Lakes Science Center
1451 Green Rd. Ann Arbor, MI 48105
734-214-7250 (voice)
734-994-8780 (fax)

Thanks to Julie shafto for sharing this information.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Students Help Lift Michigan Up

The following article is from Kellie Woodhouse: University of Michigan's fourth-annual student-run 1,000 Pitches entrepreneurship contest received a record number of pitches this year.

The group received 3,303 video pitches of entrepreneurial ideas from U-M students, topping last year's pitch total of 3,031.
Those ideas include everything from a combined washing and drying machine to a robotic mosquito swatter to the instillation of coffee carts at the university's bus stops.
1,000 Pitches will announce winners on Sunday, Dec. 11. The contest closed Nov. 18.
The 1,000 Pitches contest began in 2008 as an initiative to "create the entrepreneurial spirit of change and innovation at Michigan," project co-director Najia Yarkhan said last month. This year, winners in nine separate categories will be given $1,000 each.
MPowered, the student group that sponsors 1,000 Pitches, also held its first summit in association with the contest on Dec. 3. The summit is a way to broaden the reach of 1,000 pitches, leaders said.
"The summit at the end (allows participants) to network with sponsors and each other," Yarkhan said. "We wanted to increase quality over last year."
At the summit,1,000 Pitches participants mingled with the event's sponsors —which include Ann Arbor's SPARK, Bizdom, Google, Quicken Loans, Mobiata, Pure Michigan, Energy Stage Partners, Menlo Innovations and several other local businesses.
Winners will also have a chance to tour local Google and Quicken Loans offices.
Thomas Madigan, a U-M junior who has worked with the project for three years, said the summit is one more way the 1,000 Pitches contest has become more established over the years.
"It’s getting a little more well known and through that turning into an overall better competition," he said.
Take a look at the finalists here.
Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for AnnArbor.com. Reach her at kelliewoodhouse@annarbor.com or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.

Rogers City students are bright and talented.  Perhaps some of them see a future as business people and have their own ideas to help grow our economy.