Blue Economy

We like to think that blue water is as good as gold.  Recently more and more talk about a the Blue Economy has many people interested in Muskegon, Michigan.  In an article titled Muskegon's Blue Economy Future, John Austin, director of the Brookings Institution, Great Lakes Economic Initiative told the Muskegon Chamber audience "the Blue Economy is a $1.2 billion growing global industry that is an exciting opportunity for Muskegon. Muskegon is an unique piece of real estate and possesses a core competency in manufacturing that makes profiting from the Blue Economy very possible.

What is the Blue Economy?  Simple put it’s economic activity involving water, including water treatment, water conservation or water use for manufacturing and transportation, recreation or tourism.

Muskegon greatest asset is the Lake.  Using the Lake as a resource to grow a sustainable economy, while preserving the natural resource for years to come is a must.  “The City of Muskegon has always been linked to the fresh waters that inspired its growth and have maintained its quality of life”, the city’s web site states.

The lake has sustained many great economies of the past, or has it?  Have these economies plundered us of “Blue Water” and the pride that should be ours, in our lake, beaches, and dunes? Let’s explore more.

Do you realize that Muskegon was known as mIllionaire city?  “During the lumbering era, Muskegon boasted more millionaires than any other town in America.”  Great people used the water to make lots of money.  Take for example, the Muskegon lumber businesses rebuilt Chicago after the great fire of 1871.  47 lumber mills surrounded the lake, as the buzz provided many jobs and growth.  

During the industrial revolution, manufactures used the lake and resources to produce many diverse products.  Muskegon was on its way to becoming a diversified industrial center, having attracted such firms as Shaw-Walker, Brunswick, Campbell, Wyant, and Cannon, Continental Motors, and the Central Paper Mill to this area. The great depression stopped the come back, but World War II brought back production to include products for World War II.  Muskegon was know as the “Arsenal of Democracy”.

These periods of prosperity and abuse have left us some challenges.  Muskegon Lake is on the Great Lakes hotspot list, but with major restoration projects we see hope among sights like manufacturing properties now being vacant. Realizing that economies change, businesses leave, money disappears and now we are left to clean, redevelop and look for the next best thing.

As Blue Water vision begins to grow, so does new excitement in Muskegon.  Recently three big announcements have spread the news that Muskegon is ready for “Blue Water”.  On February 10, 2012 Grand Valley State University announced a $3.4 million investment on Muskegon’s downtown waterfront with an Annis Water Resources Institute facility upgrade.

Earlier this year Rockford Construction, Bergé Group and L3 formed the Michigan Energy Consortium with the goal of creating the Michigan Energy and Technology Center in Muskegon. The consortium is considering several sites on Muskegon Lake — including the former Sappi paper mill, the Verplank Trucking Co. property and the Mart Dock, which are large enough to build an industrial center for several wind energy manufacturers.

On February 12, 2012 . the Sand Products company introduced a “property swap” that would put the recreational fishing and camping facilities on Muskegon Lake in an area known as the “sand docks” near the former Pigeon Hill.  Fisherman’s Landing would then be available for future port Blue Water Economy development, while creating a new recreational facility with boat launches on Muskegon Lake and approximately 70 camping sites.

Muskegon is in the process of once again establishing greatness with the hope of the  “Blue Water Economy”.

Comments and Post from Roger Zuidema Lake Effect Promoted on Mlive and others news article:

10/30/2013  As we continue to promote Muskegon and Michigan as a great place to play, wouldn't it be awesome to establish great private/public groups that work and in hand to bring positive outcomes to the state. I think this is one of those groups. Congrats to Robert Lukens and the team behind the scene, that took a risk to bring Bassmasters to Muskegon. Your hard work looks to have planted the seed that could grow. Question. Shouldn't we continue to invest in the infrastructure that lead people when visiting to say, "Wow, not only a great recreational venue but facilities to match"? Let's Grow the Lake Effect!