CSG Midwest
In the not-so-distant past, “non-existent” would have been an apt term to describe the Midwest’s farm winery and craft beer industries. As recently as the year 2000, only 300 acres were in grape production.

But today, ethanol isn’t the only alcohol being produced in this region. There has been big growth in the beer and wine industry, a trend that is allowing for more diversity in farm production and helping expand local and statewide agri-tourism.

The winery and craft beer industries are moving out of the hobby stage and making an estimated $10 billion contribution to the economies of Midwestern states. More than 12,000 acres of grapes and 600 craft brewers now call the Midwest home. This growth has been fueled not only by the development of winter-hardy varieties of grapes, but also by more-supportive government policies.
CSG Midwest
The busiest commercial border crossing in North America may finally be on its way to expansion. On February 18, the U.S. and Canadian governments and the state of Michigan announced an agreement to build and operate a new U.S. customs plaza, one of the last major hurdles to the construction of a new bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

The Border Legislative Conference, a program of The Council of State Governments West, released a report, “The U.S.-Mexico Border Economy in Transition,” at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. The report is the result of four Regional Economic Competitiveness Forums held along the U.S.-Mexico border in 2014 to collectively generate a shared vision and policy recommendations to strengthen economic competitiveness. The report lays out the major issues involved in border region economic development, compiles the many innovative ideas developed at the forums and weaves them into a series of policy recommendations that draw on the experiences of those who understand the border best: the individuals who live in border communities and who cross back and forth between Mexico and the United States as a part of their daily lives.

CSG Midwest
Moving workers across the United States’ northern border can be a challenge, one that interferes with a person’s ability to obtain a temporary job and can impact business operations as well. But both the United States and Canada are taking steps to fix this problem, with the dual goals of easing skills shortages in certain economic sectors and giving unemployed workers more options.
 

States know that increased international exposure can contribute to economic growth and increased trade and foreign investment. While higher education institutions traditionally have focused on recruiting international students, several states now are formalizing their approach to attracting foreign students and encouraging foreign exchange in strategic economic and workforce development plans. This eCademy session identifies trends in state government activity supporting internationalization and examines why this is an area of increasing opportunity for states.

CSG Midwest
At a time when commodity prices are the lowest in years, agricultural producers have been looking for ways to increase demand. One answer to the market problem, it turns out, could be just 90 miles away from the U.S. border. That is because agriculture — a major Midwestern strength — stands to be one of the biggest potential beneficiaries of President Obama’s plan to ease economic and trade restrictions with Cuba.
CSG Midwest
In the 20 years since the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect, trade between the United States and Canada has tripled, but those gains have occurred despite ongoing — and often unnecessary — hurdles to cross-border business, according to a recent study by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. “The report is striking because it acknowledges that the NAFTA objective of a single market for goods and services hasn’t been achieved,” notes Christopher Sands, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.

Titled “Made in North America: A New Agenda to Sharpen Our Competitive Edge,” the study offers several strategies to reach that objective.

In their 2015 State of the State speeches, Governors across the country will spotlight the importance of states remaining globally competitive—creating opportunity for state exports and attracting new investment from international partners. Year on year states are increasing their international engagement, attracting investment and students from abroad and looking to export everything, everywhere. Exports have proven to be a catalyst to sustainable growth and jobs for small firms. A recent study by the International Trade Commission (ITC) found companies that exported grew by 37 percent, while non-exporting firms declined by 7 percent from 2005 to 2009.

Catherine Bray, Director of CSG Global, outlines the top five issues in international affairs policy for 2015, including export promotion programs, attracting foreign direct investment, international trade agreements, trade facilitation, and the internationalization of higher education. 

As state leaders outline their strategies and goals for 2015, they are keeping a close watch on the actions of the federal government and how such policies will impact their respective state. Such federal actions – whether in the form of federal funds, congressional legislation, executive orders, and regulations – can dramatically influence the direction and overall strategy of the state. With nearly one third of state funds appropriated from the federal government, many state programs are dependent on a consistent source of funds. This close relationship between the federal government and states has grown more complex in recent years, leaving less certainty about the roles and responsibilities of each respective government.

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