How Universities are Advancing Michigan’s Blue Economy

By Lauren Ebelt on July 30th, 2014 / Comments

Michigan is the Mitten State, but it is also the Great Lakes State as well. The lakes are not only known for their size (they are the largest fresh water source on Earth), but also for their ability to stimulate innovation and research opportunities.

Three major universities in the stateMichigan State University, University of Michigan and Wayne State Universityare part of a collaborative research effort involving the lakes. Their partnership is known as the University Research Corridor (URC).

Over the past few years, they have explored a wide variety of Great Lakes concerns, including invasive species, water quality, and how to best utilize the water for agriculture. From 2009 to 2013, the URC has been awarded nearly $300 million in water-related research and outreach opportunities that are now being labeled as the Blue Economyby Andersons Economic Group (AEG).

AEG compiled a report that looked at the URCs impact on a variety of Michigans industries; their findings show that Michigan is ranked fourth in the nation for percentage of jobs associated with industries related to water. Most of these jobs can be found in the agriculture, mining and manufacturing industries, but many more jobs are closely tied to water, says AEG.

Read the full report titled Innovating for the Blue Economy here. We found it pretty interesting to see how our Great Lakes catapult industry.

One in five Michigan jobs is tied to having good and plentiful water,said AEG founder and CEO, Patrick Anderson, in a recent press release from URC. It is an important economic driver to Michigan, and extends to Great Lakes shipping, advanced manufacturing, agriculture, and fishing, and over 80 other industry subsectors where Michigan workers are employed today.

Together, the universities that make up the URC have 68 programs dedicated to water-related areas and produce more than 3,400 graduates each year that are prepared to adapt to and analyze water-related issues in the world. Of these graduates, nearly 40% go on to an advanced degree.

The URCs focus isnt just on the Great Lakes. Their work also involves studying lakes, streams, wetlands and water systems in bordering states. Much of their work also extends across the nationwith global effects. Researchers at the URC also collaborate with other researchers from around the state, country and the world.

All three universities are proud to be a part of the Blue Economy.

We are fortunate to be surrounded by the greatest body of fresh water in the world with a fifth of the worlds freshwater supply at our fingertips,said Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson in a recent press release. The URC is working hard to make sure that water is an economic resource not only for today but for future generations of Michigan residents.

About the Author

Lauren Ebelt

Lauren is a recent graduate from Michigan State University. She likes traveling, blogging about the food she eats, and correct grammar.