From Illinois Business Journal news services
DUBUQUE, IOWA — A Mississippi River mayors group, which includes two from Metro East, says that revenue generated by the river is $405 billion, supporting 1.3 million jobs — significantly higher than anticipated.
More than two dozen river mayors were in Dubuque attending a three-day meeting this week for the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative, a mayoral-led effort comprised of 68 mayors committed to creating a coordinated voice for the Mississippi River.
Coordinated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Upper Mississippi River Profile revealed revenue generated by the upper river to be $253.2 billion, supporting 755,000 jobs. For the first time ever, the Upper River Profile was produced within a year of the Lower River Profile, enabling a more accurate comparison of the river’s overall economic impact. The lower river directly supports 585,000 jobs and generates $151.7 billion. Original estimates put the river’s overall impact at $200 billion and only 1 million jobs.
The profiles also showed that the top three economies on the entire Mississippi are manufacturing, tourism, and agriculture, responsible for $366 billion in annual revenue and supporting over 1.15 million jobs. The profiles only count counties along the Upper River directly adjacent to the waterway.
To protect these jobs and way of life, the mayors stressed the need for clean water and announced steps to develop a clean water program. The mayors will work with states to implement clean water goals and support efforts to incentivize sustainable agriculture practices that reduce nutrient loading into the water column.
Seven of the mayors (none from Illinois) were selected to be part of a mayoral delegation to attend the UN’s COP21 meeting — the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change — in Paris this December.
“The Mississippi Mayors have direct experience with climate disruption, surviving floods, droughts, and hurricanes. That’s why we must be part of the global discussion on climate change,” said St. Paul, Minn., Mayor Chris Coleman, who is one of the co-leaders of the delegation.
The Kingdom of Netherlands — long considered a global leader in climate mitigation, is a partner in helping the river mayors navigate the meeting. In addition, the Rhine Basin of the Netherlands and the Mississippi River share key similarities.
Participating mayors included Tom Thompson, mayor of Grafton, Jim Spann, mayor of Hartford, and Francis Slay, mayor of St. Louis.
More information is at www.mrcti.org .