Understanding an emerging economic discourse through regional analysis: Blue economy clusters in the U.S. Great Lakes basin

Marcello Graziano*, Karen A. Alexander, Matthew Liesch, Eva Lema, José Alfredo Torres

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


The Blue Economy (BE) is rapidly becoming one of the most commonly applied regional economic paradigms in coastal and maritime regions globally. Since the late 1970s, the U.S. Great Lakes basin has searched for ways to reverse its economic decline, and the BE offers new opportunities to sustain the region's economic development, possibly sustaining its transition towards new economic sectors. In developing, applying, and critically appraising a definition of the BE in one of the largest fresh-water systems in the world, our work identifies how regional characteristics and intersectoral conflicts can pose issues to both policymakers and researchers. The use of standard metrics (e.g. location quotients) allows us to compare our findings with previous works conducted in other regions. From this comparison, and by comparing inter-state differences, we find that the BE in the region comprises highly-productive clusters, although employment specialization remains low. In addition, several BE clusters are dominated by industries that are different compared to those in other regions. To the Great Lakes basin, our work represents a benchmark analysis that builds upon existing concepts used locally by researchers and policymakers alike for crafting policies aimed at supporting economic growth in a region only recently emerging from a long period of economic and demographic decline.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-123
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Geography
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


  • Blue economy
  • Clusters
  • Great lakes
  • Marine economy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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