In 1985, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and the Great Lakes Commission conceived and produced a statistical compendium of the Great Lakes region entitled The Great Lakes Economy: A Resource and Industry Profile of the Great Lakes States. Those who produced that volume, and those who used it, felt that decision makers and analysts needed a common set of facts with which to better understand the region's economic position and performance. This common set of facts has been used in developing common regional strategies, enhancing understanding, and focusing attention on the region's common concerns.
The Great Lakes Economy Looking North and South, published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in 1991, represents a culmination of several years' research which updates and eclipses its predecessor in several important ways (see Box for articles and authors). The recently published volume provides analysts of the region the opportunity to interpret the facts surrounding the region's endowments, performance, and changes. In doing so, several authors have chosen to look beyond the states themselves to the closely linked Canadian portion of the Great Lakes region.
With the rise of low cost transportation and communication, the world has shrunk but regions have grown—often spilling over national boundaries. As a result, the scope of topics in the book has been broadened. Resource and industry trends and performance are still addressed in full but the linkages among the region's resources, people, and industries are also brought to the fore. Further, the region has moved through a series of development strategies so that it is now time to assess the past, to save what is valuable, to discard mistaken avenues, and to plan for the future. This article briefly discusses some of these issues and presents the authors' insights from The Great Lakes Economy Looking North and South.