UNITED STATES CONGRESS
U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Rob Portman (R-OH) recently introduced the Great Lakes Authority Act of 2022.
The bill would create the Great Lakes Authority, a federal-state partnership to encourage economic growth and community development in the Great Lakes region. The Great Lakes Authority would serve Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, and parts of Illinois.
“We need to make sure Michigan and other Great Lakes States have the resources and funding to promote economic growth, job training opportunities, and community development just like other regions across the country do,” said Senator Stabenow. “This bipartisan bill will create an important partnership to give state and local governments the tools they need to create jobs, boost their economy, and transform communities.”
“Just like with the seven other federal regional commissions, Ohio and the other Great Lake states stand to benefit greatly from the creation of this federal-state partnership, providing much-needed resources to provide growth and opportunity all around the region,” said Portman. “This legislation will spur not only economic development but serve as a boon to infrastructure, energy, and environment sectors, which are so vital to the region.”
Congress has authorized seven federal regional commissions and authorities to help address economic distress in regions across the country. However, many counties in the Great Lakes region and entire states, like Michigan and Indiana, are not covered by a federal commission or authority.
This legislation would establish the Great Lakes Authority, which is modelled after the highly-successful Appalachian Regional Commission. The new authority will be tasked with supporting economic growth and community development in manufacturing communities and economically distressed areas of the Great Lakes region. The authority will also collaborate with local communities, state governments, and other stakeholders to:
- Strengthen manufacturing, promote workforce development, and foster innovation in the Great Lakes region.
- Create an economic and infrastructure development plan for the Great Lakes region.
- Encourage private investment in industrial, commercial, and recreational projects in the Great Lakes region.
This bill authorizes $80 million in federal appropriations annually for the Great Lakes Authority, which will be used to fund projects such as workforce education, water infrastructure improvement, business development, public infrastructure improvement, housing development, and more. Multiple public entities, including states, local governments, Tribal governments, non-profits, and colleges and universities, will be eligible to submit projects to the Great Lakes Authority. The commission will select projects based on a variety of criteria, including the project’s ability to increase economic opportunity and reduce poverty in the region.