Growing Michigan's Blue Economy Initiative

Michigan and its communities are looking for sources of new economic opportunity. One potential source of new economic activity is to build on unique Michigan assets around natural water features, and water-related innovation, education and research. Collectively these assets offer the opportunity for growing blue economy related jobs and economic activity.

Many new economic activities are linked to "green": "green" product choices and lifestyles, "green" sustainable energy, and place-making with greenways, parks, and natural spaces. Water provides analogous "blue" opportunities.

Waterfront community development

Waterfront community development

Water is a defining feature of Michigan: 4,000 miles of freshwater coast, inland lakes, rivers, and wetlands, all of which contribute to unique opportunities for Michigan communities to develop quality of life and lifestyle advantages. Like other river, lake, and oceanfront communities, communities around Michigan are already advancing new community development visions around their water assets.

Further, a number of Michigan firms are already engaged in developing, building and selling new smart-water products and services. In addition, Michigan's education and research institutions are developing expertise in discovery, innovation and education around global water-issue problem solving, which can serve as magnets for talent and centers of excellence around water sustainability issues.

The overall goals of this project include:

1) Provide an inspiring illustration of the Blue Economy and its tangible development in Michigan. Specifically, we aim to inventory and illustrate the following:

  • How communities are organizing local economic development efforts around their water assets, and practically advancing this work;
  • How firms are finding, creating and exploiting new markets for water technology products;
  • How Michigan education and research institutions are growing their footprint in water problem-solving.

2) Provide opportunity for idea and information sharing among blue economy innovators in Michigan.
3) Begin to better identify ways other stakeholders can best support and accelerate effective efforts.

View the website:
Download the report: (PDF)

Water-dependent tourism

Water-dependent tourism

Offshore wind farm

Offshore wind turbines are one example of a blue economy opportunity related to the water-energy nexus.

Algal bioreactors

Algal bioreactors are another example of a blue economy opportunity related to the water-energy nexus.

This project is funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Project Partner: John Austin - Director, Michigan Economic Center

Al Steinman, AWRI Project Manager:
Mary Ogdahl, Lead Technician: