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2018 Public Policy Priorities

The Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition is a collective of chambers of commerce across the Great Lakes region that jointly advocate on core policy issues, including water quality, immigration reform, trade, and transportation and infrastructure. Since its founding in 2008, the coalition has become a leading and effective voice on federal policy impacting the Great Lakes region.

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TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE

A safe and reliable multi-modal transportation system – including public transit, roads and highways, inland waterways and river navigation – is critical to the economy and quality of life in the Great Lakes region. The Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition (GLMCC) supports major investments that infuse new, innovative ideas and resources into how regions can bolster transportation and infrastructure while maintaining focus on existing federal programs that need ongoing support. The Trump Administration infrastructure plan includes $200 million in federal funding over 10 years that is designed to leverage non-federal resources for a total of $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending. GLMCC encourages Congress to include the following priorities in the final infrastructure legislation:

  • Comprehensive policy and regulatory development on autonomous vehicles / "Smart Cities" concepts, which will drive the future of our economy.
  • Fixing the Highway Trust Fund, a critically important program that supports transportation and infrastructure needs but suffers from a structural revenue deficit.
  • Directed federal spending for transformative projects across the Great Lakes region.
  • Increasing federal investment in the Capital Investment Grants program, which supports public transit needs.
  • Maintaining the Poe Lock and building a second Poe-sized lock at the Soo Locks, the only channel for shipping commodities into and out of Lake Superior. The new lock is a project of national significance and a recent Department of Homeland Security study shows that the national and Great Lakes economies are highly vulnerable if it is not built.
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IMMIGRATION REFORM

Immigration in the Great Lakes region has had a tremendous impact on economic growth, particularly in the manufacturing and health care sectors. Research commissioned by GLMCC in partnership with the New American Economy highlights this:

Despite popular perception, manufacturing has begun a robust rebound in the Great Lakes region, adding more than 250,000 working-class jobs between 2010 and 2015, the majority of which were filled by U.S.-born workers. This is possible, in part, because immigrants fill the higher-skilled jobs that allow companies to stay local, as opposed to moving offshore. Foreign-born workers made up one out of every seven manufacturing engineers in 2015.

Immigrants play an important role in strengthening the quality of the talent pipeline, contributing to the local tax base, and creating new businesses. GLMCC will advocate for long-term immigration reform, including reauthorization of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, which allows for investment in catalytic development projects; comprehensive H-1B visa reform that increases the number of visas and allows Great Lakes economies to compete; and maintaining the Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses Rule that would remove barriers to and create incentives for attracting international talent to help Great Lakes companies compete in a global marketplace.

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WATER QUALITY IN THE GREAT LAKES REGION

One of the world's greatest natural resources is in our region – the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes are a major economic force, with the existence of more than 1.5 million jobs due to activities in the region. As the core of what binds this coalition together, the GLMCC will continue to advocate for:

  • Continued investment in the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), a $300 million federal program that supports the five-lake basin. The FY 2019 federal executive budget would reduce GLRI funding to 30 million - a 90% cut. GLMCC will continue to advocate for full funding of this program.
  • Prioritized investments for the Great Lakes in the 2018 Water Resources Development Act. The FY 2019 federal executive budget includes $108.7 million for Great Lakes Navigation System (GLNS) projects. While this request is higher than the President’s 2018 request, it still falls short of the $154.5 million appropriated by Congress in 2017. We support Congress increasing the funding level to traditional appropriations levels during the FY 2019 appropriations debate.
  • Maintaining the current Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT). The FY 2019 federal executive budget indicates the Administration’s intent to request a reduction in HMT, which would lower revenue available for harbor maintenance. GLMCC opposes this HMT reduction.
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TALENT ATTRACTION

Attracting and retaining the best talent is a top priority of the businesses represented by the GLMCC. Employer-driven short and long-term strategies developed in partnership with the public sector are needed to bolster job training and talent attraction through federal and regional policies. GLMCC will advocate for federal policies – including reauthorization of the Higher Education Act and the Perkins Career Technical Education Act – that provide support to retrain incumbent workers, improve the skills of the underemployed, and support smart investments in higher education that provide critical financial aid but also drives research and development activities and entrepreneurship.

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ENERGY DEVELOPMENT

Federal policies that support innovation and development, job growth and balanced costs, and reliability are critical. GLMCC will advocate for:

  • Continued investment in the Department of Energy's Fossil Energy (FE) R&D program that supports the development of new technologies. The National Energy Technology Laboratory in the Greater Pittsburgh region has led the development of significant energy innovation for the country, such as clean coal and CO2 capture, storage, and utilization. The FY 2019 federal executive budget includes a 19% increase in FE R&D. GLMCC will encourage Congress to support this increase as they develop the Energy and Water Appropriations bill.
  • The passage of federal legislation to support an Appalachian storage hub and regional energy market, which would positively impact the Midwest economy.
  • The passage of energy modernization legislation and approval of regulations that will boost competitiveness in the Great Lakes for energy development and support grid reliability.
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U.S. AND CANADA BORDER CROSSINGS / TRADE

A bi-national economy where there is safe and efficient trading between the United States and Canada is essential to bolstering the Great Lakes economy. GLMCC will continue to advocate for sound border efficiency measures. GLMCC will also advocate for a "do no harm" position in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

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PROTECTING FEDERAL ASSETS ACROSS THE GREAT LAKES

There are important federal and defense assets across the Great Lakes region that play a critical role in the nation’s security and represent significant economic impact for their respective communities. GLMCC is uniquely positioned to play a leadership role in highlighting the economic importance of federal and defense assets across the Great Lakes region to guard them against a future Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process and federal budget cuts, as well as jointly advocate for new opportunities for these assets in the National Defense Authorization Act and other federal funding opportunities.