The long decline of the industrial upper mid-west is an old story. For decades former manufacturing strongholds in Great Lakes states like Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin have worked tirelessly to reinvent themselves for a post-industrial world.
Back in the day the Great Lakes provided many things to make this region strong, but chief among them was a high volume transportation corridor needed for an industrial age, without which mid-west manufacturing would have never happened.
So the question might be asked – is it possible to invent a way (without destroying them) in which the Great Lakes could be the foundation of yet another economic revolution?
Two efforts, one in Michigan and one in Ohio are on the right path.
First, Grand Valley State University will be launching its wind buoy on its third year of offshore data gathering in Lake Michigan. This project has carefully gathered mountains of baseline wind and related data which will help build the case for wind power far offshore in the deep waters of Lake Michigan.
Second, the LEEDCO Icebreaker project was recently awarded a DOE grant to develop a demonstration offshore windfarm off the coast of Cleveland in Lake Erie. The project would be the first of its kind in freshwater anywhere in the world.
On the off-chance that Natural Gas turns out to not be the answer to all of our energy problems and if the idea that locally produced zero-emissions technology will play an important role in our regional energy portfolio then the Great Lakes may yet again provide the keys to a mid-west industrial revolution.