BMO Economics Special Report: The Great Lakes Region a Vital Driver of North America's Economy

BMO Economics Special Report: The Great Lakes Region a Vital Driver of North  America's Economy  CHICAGO, ILLINOIS -- (Marketwired) -- 04/25/14 --  BMO Economics today released a special report, North America's Economic Engine, on the economic output from the Great Lakes region. The report was released to coincide with the Council of Great Lakes Governors meeting, taking place in Chicago on April 25-26, 2014.  The reports notes that the region is a major driver of North American economic output, employment and trade, accounting for nearly a third of combined Canadian and U.S. output, jobs and exports.  "The Great Lakes region has so much going for itself with transportation infrastructure, advanced manufacturing, research and development, digital manufacturing, strong locally-rooted financial institutions, and some of the world's best post-secondary institutions," said Ambassador David Jacobson, Vice-Chair, BMO Financial Group. "I am delighted that the Council of Great Lakes Governors meeting is taking place here in Chicago, which is home to dozens of Fortune 1000 companies. We are a city like no other when it comes to reinventing itself. The discussions over the next two days here in Chicago will allow us to explore opportunities to create jobs, strengthen trade, open doors to new discoveries, and drive innovation and prosperity for all in the region."  According to the report, economic activity across the eight states and Ontario has improved after being hard hit during the recession, and is forecasted to continue growing through 2014. Economic output was $4.9 trillion in 2012, and the region accounts for 28 percent of combined Canadian and U.S. economy activity.   "The Great Lakes region is a power house not just in terms of the North American economy, but on the global stage. If the region was a country, it would rank as the fourth largest economy in the world, behind only the U.S., China and Japan," said Michael Gregory, Head of U.S. Economics, BMO Capital Markets. "While we did see activity slow down notably from 2007 to 2009, we've seen a bounceback across the states and in Canada, with the auto sector being a key contributor."   The region employed more than 46 million workers in 2013, accounting for nearly 30 percent of the combined Canadian and U.S. workforce, in a wide range of industries.  "Historically, this has been a hub for manufacturing, but employment has diversified and factory-sector employment now makes up just over 10 percent of the workforce across the region - down five percentage points from a decade ago," said Mr. Gregory. "We've seen double digit job growth in education and healthcare, as well as professional services, with retail and wholesale trade and government services also making a strong contribution to employment."  The report also notes the importance of trade within the region and across borders. Nearly a quarter of U.S. merchandise exports came from the region in 2013, while Ontario accounted for 40 percent of Canadian shipments. The main drivers were transportation equipment and machinery, followed by agricultural and food products, metals and chemicals.   "Trade between the Great Lakes states, and cross-border trade, is vital to the smooth running of this economic engine. The North American Free Trade Agreement has played a pivotal role, as has the Beyond the Border Action Plan. Policy aimed at improving trade flows will further support growth in the region," said Mr. Gregory. "The bridge between Windsor and Detroit is just one recent example we've seen, which will not only improve border infrastructure but serve to facilitate increased trade."  To view a full copy of the report, visit www.bmocm.com/economics.   About BMO Financial Group   Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly diversified financial services organization based in North America. The bank offers a broad range of retail banking, wealth management and investment banking products and services to more than 12 million customers. BMO Financial Group had total assets of $593 billion and more than 45,500 employees at January 31, 2014.   About BMO Harris Bank    BMO Harris Bank provides a broad range of personal banking products and solutions through more than 600 branches and approximately 1,300 ATMs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Arizona and Florida. BMO Harris Bank's commercial banking team provides a combination of sector expertise, local knowledge and mid-market focus throughout the U.S. For more information about BMO Harris Bank, go to the company fact sheet. Banking products and services are provided by BMO Harris Bank N.A. and are subject to bank or credit approval. BMO Harris Bank(R) is a trade name used by BMO Harris Bank N.A. Member FDIC. BMO Harris Bank is part of BMO Financial Group, a North American financial organization with approximately 1,600 branches, and CDN $593 billion in assets (as of January 31, 2014).  Contacts: Media contact: Alexis Brown, Chicago 312-461-6543 alexis.brown@bmo.com  Peter E. Scott, Toronto 416-867-3996 petere.scott@bmo.com