Leaders Converge in Chicago to Help Frame the Midwest's Response to Globalization
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Leaders Converge in Chicago to Help Frame the Midwest's Response to Globalization Embargoed Until: October 6, 2008 A new effort kicks off to design strategies for an economically competitive and socially healthy Midwest that is being rapidly transformed by the forces of globalization An emerging partnership of Midwestern government, research universities, businesses, and nonprofits has come together to form a Global Midwest Initiative (GMI) -- a multiyear effort designed to examine how to best position the Midwest for success in the era of globalization. 200 business, civic, and government leaders from across the Midwest, will attend the inaugural Globalization and the Midwest conference on Monday, October 6, 2008 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago to launch the Initiative. The Initiative is spearheaded by The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. According to new research produced for the launch of this initiative by World Business Chicago, the 12-state Midwest -- ranging from Ohio to Kansas and from Missouri to North Dakota -- has an annual gross regional product of $2.8 trillion. If the Midwest were a nation, its GNP would rank fifth in the world -- behind the United States, Japan, Germany, and China, and ahead of Great Britain and France. Its productivity (its gross product per capita), would rank 14th in the world, ahead of Germany. Despite these robust numbers, "Midwesterners are concerned about globalization and what it means for their future," says Marshall M. Bouton, president of The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. "The goal of this initiative is to take seriously these concerns, and develop a path forward on which Midwesterners can remain committed to global engagement. If we lose support for globalization in the Midwest, we will lose it nationally. Our nation cannot afford this. The Chicago Council is delighted to join with distinguished strategic partners to engage in a hard-headed conversation about globalization and the Midwest." The GMI is a strategic partnership among renowned regional and national organizations such as the Big Ten universities' Committee on Institutional Cooperation, the Farm Foundation, CEO's for Cities, the Millennium Project at the University of Michigan, the Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights, and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation. The Initiative counts on support from affiliate partners across the region including economic development associations, city foundations, world affairs councils, emerging industry centers, and civic organizations. The 2008 Globalization and the Midwest conference will feature keynote speeches by Thomas Dorr, under secretary for rural development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture; John Engler, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers and former governor of Michigan; and Thomas Vilsack, former governor of Iowa. Panels throughout the day will examine the Midwest in the global economy, industries of the future, the impact of immigration, and the importance of thinking regionally. The conference is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Cleveland Foundation, Navistar, and Barnes & Thornburg. "Globalization presents a unique challenge for business and workers alike. However, part of the culture in the Midwest is accepting big challenges. No one state, business, or worker can do the job alone, but by working together we can make the most of the opportunity," said Thomas Vilsack, former governor of Iowa. The Initiative builds on the book Caught in the Middle: America's Heartland in the Age of Globalism, authored by Chicago Council senior fellow and former Chicago Tribune senior foreign correspondent, Richard C. Longworth. In it, he calls for regional rather than state-based action. Longworth spent a year interviewing local executives, government officials, and civic leaders to identify the dramatic changes in the Midwestern way of life caused by forces beyond the region's control. He discovered a crisis of confidence in the region's capability to thrive in the global era. "I've been driving around the great heartland swath that defines the Midwest and have found towns, cities, and states grappling on their own with the pressures of globalization, unaware that it's a regional crisis with regional solutions," said Longworth. "What the Midwest needs is a regional organization bringing together officials, universities, and businesses to generate real thinking -- and solutions -- across state lines." In addition to the annual conference, the Global Midwest Initiative will publish a monograph series -- the Heartland Papers -- that will delve deeply into the challenges and opportunities of globalization and will be presented to local policymakers and leaders at seminars and conferences across the Midwest. A Global Midwest Web site also will provide a forum for sharing knowledge, making connections, and facilitating the growth of a virtual Midwest online community. The Initiative will tackle a variety of issues such as infrastructure, transportation and high speed rail, emerging industries, rural Internet access, energy, education, and immigration. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, founded in 1922 as The Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, is a leading independent, nonpartisan organization committed to influencing the discourse on global issues through contributions to opinion and policy formation, leadership dialogue, and public learning. CONTACT: Emily Blum, Valerie Denney Communications, +1-312-408-2580 ext. 13, for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs /PRNewswire-USNewswire -- Oct. 3/ SOURCE Chicago Council on Global Affairs
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