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Dozens of local leaders took part in the Macomb County Chamber of Commerce-sponsored Lake St. Clair Appreciation Day. The event set sail from the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club. The Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce was a partner in the event. photo by Joe Warner.

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Macomb Community College President Jim Jacobs was one of the day's speakers. photo by Joe Warner.
August 08, 2013
Any day on Lake St. Clair beats a day at the office, but for a few dozen local leaders, it was a day of learning mixed with the fun.

The annual Lake St. Clair Appreciation Day was celebrated July 31, with a kickoff at the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club, followed by a cruise, a boardwalk dedication and plenty of information and appreciation in between.

Sponsored by the Macomb County Chamber of Commerce, with help from the Grosse Pointe Chamber and several businesses, the event included business and government leaders from Macomb County and the Grosse Pointes, state legislators and a representative from Gov. Rick Snyder's office.

At a breakfast on the lakeside lawn of the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club, Macomb County Chamber CEO Grace Shore welcomed attendees and introduced the day's first speaker, John Austin, who serves as director of the Michigan Economic Center for the Brookings Institute.

"Our water in Michigan has been a conduit for commerce," Austin said. "We all used and abused the water as it powered our economy."

Changes in industry, cleaning the waters of Lake St. Clair, the Great Lakes and its rivers and addressing the look of the waterfront property has allowed our shores to thrive in a healthier way, Austin said.

"There are jobs created when cleaning the lakes," Austin said. "Every dollar we invest, it yields $3 in return." Austin said the day on Lake St. Clair brought back great personal memories.

He met his wife in Grosse Pointe Park 30 years ago and they married at St. Pauls on the Lake Catholic Church in Grosse Pointe Farms.

"We would sail out of this harbor," Austin told the crowd. "I had never been to Michigan much before I met my wife. A year after we were married, we took a grand tour: Sleeping Bear Dunes, Petoskey, Mackinac, Grand Marais, the Keweenaw Peninsula. I was prepared to be underwhelmed. What I found was magical. These are the great places to live, work and call home because of the water."

Austin went on to recognize the work of local municipalities, counties and schools, including Grand Valley State University, Wayne State University and Macomb Community College. He then introduced MCC President Jim Jacobs.

"Lake St. Clair isn't just a Macomb thing, it's all of us and we need to work hard on this important piece of our community," Jacobs said. "This lake accounts for 1/3 of all sport fishing catches in Michigan, there are 57,000 boats registered in Macomb County and 60 marinas with 128,000 boat slips right here in this area.

Jacobs said Lake St. Clair, with strong educational, recreational and job opportunities, partner to bring a higher quality to Macomb County and the Grosse Pointes.

"This lake is one of our key assets," Jacobs said. "MCC is an active partner in developing programs to help produce the next generation to preserve, protect and expand what we do with Lake St. Clair. MCC will be there with you."

After Jacobs spoke, the crowd was underway on several boats for a tour up the coast to Lake St. Clair Metropark.

From there, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel welcomed the group to the $1.5 million refurbishment of Pointe Rosa marsh on the western edge of the park. A new boardwalk along the marsh offers the perfect view of wildlife in their natural habitat.

The project was celebrated with a proclamation, presented by Kaitlin Nye of Gov. Snyder's office.

"I grew up in St. Clair Shores and my grandparents live in Grosse Pointe, so I'm proud to be here today," Nye said.

The tour then went back to the lake and MacRay Harbor for a reception.

"There's a great turnout, a lot of support, said Jennifer Boettcher, executive director of the Grosse Pointe Chamber.

The event sponsors included the two chambers, FirstState Bank, McLaren Macomb, AT&T, Huntington and Freedom Hill.

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Ed Rinke