The Michigan Port Collaborative was founded in 2007 and has been working in unison with the state of Michigan and federal leaders to promote issues regarding the Great Lakes, as well encourage legislation that will ensure the health and quality of our coast. It is made up of officials from the almost 100 port cities in the state that share the same goals and concerns.
Those involved with the effort met in Alpena Wednesday to get updates and information on current events and discuss some of the issues facing Lake Huron. The meeting also was attended by Sen. Debbie Stabenow's regional Manager Brandon Fewins, who said coalition efforts such as the MPC are a good way to educate the lawmakers on what is going on outside of Washington.
"This is about listening to the needs and working with the communities to get them the help they need," Fewins said. "It is also a good way to identify the best way to help projects move forward. Michigan is defined by its lakes and it is a huge part of its heritage. That is only one of the reasons we need to preserve and protect them. It is one of our highest priorities."
Steering committee Chairman John Kerr said there are three main objectives the group is trying to achieve. He said the members want to provide ideas and thoughts through communication of the member port communities and to educate the state, federal and private sector community. Kerr said getting the message out and communicating with each other and lawmakers can only benefit the port cities.
"We want to advocate policy and secure resources for the communities," Kerr said. "In order to do that we need to educate the policy-makers about our priorities. They need to know about our concerns about transportation, public access and habitat protection. It is our goal to work together with one another, as well as with the government, to do what is right for the great lakes and the cities that sit on their coats."
Rogers City Mayor Beach Hall said there used to be an organization of harbor masters that met and had goals similar to the MPC. He said that didn't work and the port collaborative was born.
"The group of harbor masters just didn't gain any traction, but there is a lot more cooperation among the ports and the east side of the state is much better now," Hall said. "I think the collaborative is a wonderful tool and is great for all of the coastal port cities in the state to participate. It is beneficial for not only Rogers City, Alpena and Cheboygan but everyone. "
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689.