INDIANAPOLIS — Look at any map of North America, and there's no question that Indiana is located nowhere near the Atlantic Ocean.
But if you follow the ocean a little bit north of Maine, you'll find the St. Lawrence River. Trace it past Quebec City and Montreal, Canada, into Lake Ontario and then onward through Lake Erie, Lake Huron and to the bottom of Lake Michigan, and you end up in Northwest Indiana.
Quite simply, the Great Lakes system, including the St. Lawrence River, connects Indiana to the world and brings the world to the Hoosier State, generating $14 billion a year in economic activity and supporting more than 100,000 Indiana jobs.
State Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, along with state Sens. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, and Rick Niemeyer, R-Lowell, believe that's worth celebrating.
They filed Senate Concurrent Resolution 45 to recognize the importance of Indiana's ocean connection, and to call on Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb to declare Sept. 7 as Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Appreciation Day in Indiana.
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The date is the seven-year anniversary of the latest Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between the United States and Canada that reaffirmed their shared commitment, originally made in 1972, "to restore, protect and enhance the water quality of the Great Lakes, and to promote the ecological health of the Great Lakes basin."
Charbonneau noted that the importance of Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes to Indiana goes far beyond ocean-going shipping.
The lakes hold more than a fifth of the planet's fresh water supply and provide drinking water to 48 million Americans and Canadians, commercial fishing contributes more than $400 million to Indiana's economy, and recreation and tourism, including the new Indiana Dunes National Park, are responsible for thousands of Northwest Indiana jobs, he said.
The Senate approved the resolution unanimously. It now goes to the House.