The Engineering Society of Detroit Institute Unveils Plan for a new Michigan Economy


SOUTHFIELD, Mich., November 11, 2009 — More than 250 people gathered on the campus of the University of Michigan-Dearborn on Nov. 10 for the unveiling of the Engineering Society of Detroit Institute (ESDI) Michigan Clean Water Initiative report. The event was co-sponsored by ESDI, WWJ Newsradio 950, and U-M Dearborn and featured a panel of experts who discussed the outcome of the report, its impact on the State of Michigan and opportunities for new businesses.

Based on the outcome of a ESDI Blue Economy symposium held in May, David A. Skiven and Christopher J. Webb, co-directors of ESDI, presented a set of recommendations that would enable the State to take advantage of a Blue economy. Keeping the quality of our water resources as our highest priority, these recommendations include:

  1. Form a Clean Water Steering Committee: This committee will be responsible for promoting the diversification of Michigan’s economy and for increasing employment opportunities for students and professionals in transition.
  2. Establish State Funding Sources: Michigan should consider forming a source of funding for water-related economic development. This could be in the form of a state-owned bank similar to the North Dakota model or the issuance of municipal or other sovereign entity bonds for water projects and enterprises.
  3. Form a Water Research Collaboration & Center of Excellence: Michigan, through a Department of Water, or a new collaboration entitled Next Water, could develop a process for coordinating this work and for enabling greater collaboration between the various organizations.
  4. Growing and Supporting a Blue Economy within the DWSD Area: Work with the Clean Water Steering Committee and use the Technical Advisory Committee of DWSD process to proactively identify potential businesses around the country that are heavily dependent on water in either their product or process.

A panel made up of Lt. Governor John Cherry; Pam Turner, Detroit Water and Sewerage Department Director; Chuck Hersey, SEMCOG Environmental Programs Manager; Tim O’Brien, Consultant and expert on the Rouge Gateway Partnership; Gil Pezza, Director, Water Technologies Initiative – Michigan Economic Development Corporation; and Carol Miller, Professor and Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Wayne State University tackled the findings of the report and discussed what industries could be lured to Michigan by abundant fresh water, and how the state’s other economic development issues interact with water.

The enormous surplus of water available due to the decline of automotive activity in the region creates a unique opportunity for Michigan’s economic recovery and diversification of the manufacturing base to create both blue and white collar jobs.

According to Lt. Cherry and Pezza, efforts are underway to energize the water industry. Dr. Miller, discussed the ways in which the state’s universities are preparing tomorrow’s water industry workers and O’Brien, discussed the Rouge Gateway Partnership and industry’s efforts to be cleaner water users.

“Today’s event on the Blue Economy shows that Michigan has the strategic advantage when it comes to water. Water is a key unifier for our State and the enabler to rebuild our economy,” said Skiven. “We extend our thanks to everyone. Problem solving, not fault finding, through collaboration is the answer.”

The Michigan Clean Water Steering Committee will pursue the recommendations of the Blue Economy report and work diligently to bring various stakeholders together to reach a consensus and set priorities to move forward with a new Blue Economy for Michigan.

To download a copy of the Blue Economy Symposium report or to learn more about the work of ESDI, visit

Founded in 1895, ESD is a multi-disciplinary society uniting engineering, scientific and allied professions to enhance professional development and foster excitement in math and science to produce our next generation of leaders. Serving this generation of engineers and fostering the next. For more information, visit

Founded in 2008, The Engineering Society of Detroit Institute (ESDI) is a research arm of the Engineering Society of Detroit. Its mission is to advance through excellence and cooperation the successful implementation of innovation by connecting creativity and independent thought with concrete, meaningful action. For more information, visit