The Great Lakes Region of the U.S. is winding down one of its most successful years in terms of capital and maintenance spending. When the clock strikes midnight on December 31, the region will have begun construction on more than $27.8 billion worth of work in the form of 1,166 projects since January 1, 2006. The region is not sitting back and resting on its laurels as 2007 begins either. Currently, Industrial Info Resources is tracking almost 300 projects worth just over $7.6 billion that are expected to begin construction during the first quarter in the region, an increase of 44 percent over the same period in 2006.

Click to view 1Q07 Great Lakes Region Industrial Project Spending Analysis Chart Click on the image at right to view a chart showing the breakdown of 1Q07 project spending for the Great Lakes Region.

The year will start slowly with a mere $840 million in project work expected to begin during January 2007. However, things begin to ramp up in February with $1.7 billion in spending and end on a very high note for the quarter with just over $5.1 billion in projects expected to begin construction during March.

As with most of the last 10 years, the power industry is the heavy, in terms of overall spending for the quarter, with $3.1 billion in project work on the books already. Projects such as the proposed $400 million coal-fired 1,191-megawatt (MW) power plant SO2 controls installation (FGD) project in Wisconsin, the proposed $360 million 300 MW-360 MW Two Rivers Windfarm in Illinois, and the proposed $300 million coal-fired 1,085 MW Kyger Creek power plant SO2 control (FGD) project in Ohio are the backbone of an industry that has dominated spending in this region for years.

Also, as with many of the past few years, the manufacturing industry has a hold of second place in the spending wars with just under $1.9 billion. Despite a weakened automotive industry, an industry that has been an integral part of the region for nearly 100 years, the manufacturing industry continues to put up solid spending numbers each year. Some automotive spending is currently planned to begin in the first quarter, such as the proposed $700 million automotive machining plant retool in Ohio, the proposed $170 million phase II 6-speed transmission line addition in Michigan, and the proposed $137 million nickel metal hydride battery manufacturing plant expansion in Ohio, but other industries are also stepping up with some impressive projects as well. One example is the proposed $130 million phase II photovoltaic cell manufacturing plant expansion in Michigan.

However, the recent boom in the alternative fuels industry has proved to be a boon for the Great Lakes Region with that industry charging up the spending charts to take third place at $1.4 billion. Driving this upswing in spending are projects like the trio of proposed grassroot fuel ethanol projects in the state of Illinois worth a combined total of $624 million that are all scheduled to begin construction during the first quarter of the coming year. With this industry being a buzzword all across the country right now, expect this spending trend to only increase, especially in a region such as the Great Lakes, which is one of the largest farming regions of the country.

The coming year is going to begin with a bang with this type of spending activity so early on the calendar. The overall spending figures will only increase exponentially as the prime construction period opens in the spring and continues into the fall. Numbers are showing that 2007 certainly has all the ear-markings of a potential banner spending year once it is all said and done and we here at Industrial Info Resources will keep a close eye on the spending in this key region as well as across the country and even across the globe as the year develops.

Industrial Info Resources is a marketing information service company that has been doing business for more than 23 years. IIR is respected as the leader in providing comprehensive market intelligence pertaining to the industrial processing, heavy manufacturing and energy-related industries throughout the world. For more information, visit www.industrialinfo.com.