The Council’s fifth Great Lakes Economic Forum brings together hundreds of leading industry executives, senior government officials and policy experts, academics, and change agents from the nonprofit sector who have a stake in growing the economy of the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Region, safely and sustainably, and improving the well-being of the Region’s citizens.

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From Partnership Flows Sustainable Prosperity.

The Forum, launched in Chicago in 2015, provides an ideal venue for leaders from around the Region to share ideas and insights that will help shape economic policy, boost the region’s competitive edge, and secure its long-term success and sustainability in a global climate of borderless trade, investment, mobility. So if you want to create a more favorable and sustainable marketplace in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Region, you need to be in Cleveland for the Region’s premier cross-border policy conference and trade show. Other distinct advantages of participating in and sponsoring the Forum include:

  • Connecting with key players from government, business and academia in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Region
  • Promoting your brand and message among this elite audience
  • Learning about economic policy issues and cutting-edge research
  • Hear from thought leaders and experts on important issues that will affect the region—and your business
  • Making your voice heard among decision-makers attending the Forum
  • Engaging in a bi-national economic agenda to deepen cross-border and cross-sector partnerships
  • Helping to strengthen the region’s prosperity and sustainability, retain and expand existing businesses, while attracting new investment and jobs
  • Having influence over public policy by developing a unified regional voice on key issues

If it were a country, the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Region would be the third largest economy and twelfth largest nation in the world.

Built on a foundation of hard work, discovery, ingenuity, perseverance and renewal, the two countries, along with the eight U.S. states and Ontario and Quebec, must seek ways to work together more effectively than ever in today’s aggressively borderless climate of global business and investment — not only to maintain the strategic advantage of this shared economic powerhouse, but to capitalize on new and emerging opportunities in Europe, the Asia and the Americas.

Now is the time to act as one and determine together the economic policies that will expand the region’s reach to global markets, accelerate economic growth safely and sustainably, as well as the region-wide strategies and solutions that will get us there.

Take part in sessions involving influential decision makers, business leaders and experts on issues that are shaping the regional economy today and the challenges that must be overcome to ensure a bright outlook for tomorrow.

Prominent speakers at the Great Lakes Economic Forum have included Heads of State, Governors and Premiers, Mayors and City Councillors, Legislators, Ambassadors and Consul Generals, Cabinet Members and High-Ranking Government Officials, and an expansive list of c-level executives from the region’s key industries.

Plenary and concurrent panel discussions have covered a wide range of important subjects, such as:
  • The future of customs in an e-commerce world
  • Optimizing and greening freight transportation
  • Planning and permitting transboundary infrastructure projects
  • Using big data to digitize border operations
  • Expanding preclearance to all modes of travel
  • Shifting to a low-carbon economy
  • Growing binational tourism
  • Protecting critical infrastructure in key sectors
  • Improving cross-border interoperability to enhance public safety and much more!


Established in 2013, the Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR) is an independent, non-profit corporation that was created to think strategically about the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Region as a bi-national economic region. It mobilizes business leaders, lawmakers, government executives and policy specialists, academia and advocates from non-governmental organizations in accelerating regional economic growth safely and sustainably. The Council achieves this mandate by building innovative partnerships, convening thought-provoking events that stimulate conversations and ideas, conducting insightful research and generating sensible policy solutions.

For more information about CGLR and the issues below, visit

Research Areas

Water Levels & Climate Change

One of the key characteristics of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region is the highly integrated nature of its economy and environment. Many of the region’s key industries rely on its water.


Infrastructure Modernization

In an effort to eliminate infrastructure deficits and investment gaps in the Great Lakes region the Council of the Great Lakes Region will lead an effort to modernize infrastructure…


Travel & Tourism

Over the past six decades, tourism experienced continued expansion and diversification, becoming one of the largest and fastest-growing economic sectors in the world…



The rise of unconventional oil and gas and of renewables is also transforming our understanding of the distribution of the world’s energy resources.


Cross-Border Trade

Develop mechanisms to encourage cross-border trade by the region’s SMEs by increasing knowledge-sharing, reducing regulatory and capacity barriers, and engagement with the current round of consultations on Beyond the Border and the Regulatory Cooperation Council.


Workforce Development

Facilitate agreements and regulatory arrangements to mutually recognize certifications in the skilled trades across Great Lakes-St. Lawrence jurisdictions.



Create a forum to convene all government agencies working on security issues in the region to encourage increased coordination and communication.


Advanced Manufacturing

The Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Region is a mega-marketplace in the North American and global economy.


Multi-modal Logistics

The region is home to one of the world’s most inter-connected and integrated multi-modal systems, from the United States’ largest rail hub in Chicago to the vast network of airports, roads, pipelines, ports and waterways.


Border Management

The United States and Canada share the longest border between two nations in the world.


Regulatory Cooperation

The Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Region is home to 50% of Canadian and 20% of American manufacturing.


Economic Corridors and Clusters

Each year, the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Region contributes roughly USD$232 billion to United States – Canada trade.



The Great Lakes region is home to more than 105 million people.


The Great Lakes contain a full fifth of the world’s surface fresh water supplies.


The region’s GDP is USD $5.8 trillion, or roughly 28% of combined U.S. and Canadian economic activity.


The region supplies 46 million jobs, or nearly 30% of the combined U.S. and Canadian workforce.


The global, North American and Great Lakes economy has never been more connected, competitive, and technology-driven. Our future however, particular with respect to trade and environmental protection, has never been more uncertain and complicated.

The fifth Great Lakes Economic Forum therefore will bring leaders from all levels of government, business, academia and the nonprofit sector in the Great Lakes Region together for two and half days of though-provoking discussions and intimate networking with Regional leaders in order to find new ways of harnessing the Region’s economic strengths and assets, improving the well-being of the Region’s citizens, and protecting the environment for future generations.


Thought leaders and decision makers from around the Great Lakes region will ensure lively,
thought-provoking discussion during the Forum.

Great Lakes Leaders Dinner

The leaders dinner is an opportunity for stakeholders in the Great Lakes region to come together and celebrate the ecological diversity and strength of this economic powerhouse we share.

The event will also shine a spotlight on leaders from both sides of the border and all sectors—public, private and not-for-profit—who have made important contributions to success and economic growth in the region.

Register for the Great Lakes Economic Forum


Past Sponsors

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For all general inquiries, including press, sponsorship, tickets and registration, or to get more information
about our speakers, please contact us at 613-668-2044 or 416.944.3183 x 222.