Shifting Priorities In The Great Lakes

<p>Economic priorities in the Great Lakes are shifting away from heavy industrial uses to tourism and real estate development.</p>
December 7, 2007, 5am PST | Nate Berg
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"The conflict in Waukegan symbolizes the dramatic changes sweeping across the five Great Lakes, a region that is trying to reinvent itself in a way that could have major implications for the nation. Attitudes about the Great Lakes have changed so drastically during the past three decades that manufacturers are finding themselves unwelcome even in cities they once ruled."

"The five lakes - Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario - cover an area equal in size to New England and half of New York state. Some heavy industry is still attracted to the lakes. Two oil companies want to spend $10 billion on mammoth refinery expansions, one on the shore of Lake Michigan, the other on Lake Superior. What's changed the region, however, are foreign competition, politics and lifestyles."

"Today, the political and economic clout of tourism and real estate development is rising, especially at the state and local level. The influence of heavy industry has been sapped by the decline of industrial jobs through factory closings, automation and foreign competition."

"In all, the eight Great Lakes states have lost 1.2 million manufacturing jobs since 2001. During that time, the hospitality industry added 300,000 jobs. The trend is even more extreme close to the water."

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Published on Monday, December 3, 2007 in USA Today
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