U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rep. Marcy Kaptur (OH-9) this week sent a letter urging President Barack Obama to direct the Secretaries of Commerce and Interior to include the Great Lakes in new initiatives, detailed in a recently-signed Executive Order, designed to increase travel and tourism in the United States. The Great Lakes -- including the 312 mile-shoreline of Lake Erie that borders Ohio -- provide an economic boost to the region through commerce and recreation, and are responsible for an estimated 1.6 million jobs.
"Generations of Ohioans have enjoyed boating and fishing on Lake Erie," Brown said. "The Great Lakes, including Lake Erie, are national treasures that could be enjoyed by U.S. and international travelers alike. More than one million people already earn their living from recreational and commercial activities on the Great Lakes. We can create more jobs by fully developing the tourism potential of the Great Lakes region."
"Lake Erie is an incomparable natural resource and a real driver of our regional economy. Recreation, enjoyment, and major job growth opportunities come together on Ohio's North Coast," said Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur who represents the longest stretch of Lake Erie shoreline and the Erie Islands. "Tourism is an important component of our ongoing effort to elevate the Lake and the role it has in making our region not only a better place to live, work, and raise a family, but also a wonderful place to visit and enjoy nature's beauty," said Kaptur.
President Obama's Executive Order establishes a task force on travel and competitiveness to recommend new policies and initiatives to promote domestic and international travel opportunities throughout the United States.
As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Brown has fought to fully fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). The GLRI is an interagency effort to target the most significant problems in the region and jumpstart restoration efforts to protect, maintain, and restore the chemical, biological, and physical integrity of the Great Lakes. GLRI funding has helped support the removal of invasive species and plants in Ohio, funded the Toledo Harbor Sediment Management Plan, and provided resources for a comprehensive monitoring program to assess the nearshore Lake Erie water quality.
Brown is also the original cosponsor of the Harbor Maintenance Act of 2011, a bipartisan bill that would help fund and maintain the nation's harbors, including the 12 harbors on Lake Erie.