History & Mission

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The Institute is unique among policy centers because of its ties to Congress through the bipartisan Northeast-Midwest Senate and Congressional Coalitions, which, along with their task forces, help advance federal policies that enhance the region’s economy and environment.

The states of the Northeastern and Midwestern parts of the country enjoy numerous assets: plentiful water and other natural resources, distinguished universities and research institutions; significant financial centers and cultural institutions; a skilled workforce; and a history of entrepreneurship. At the same time, the region lacks traditional energy supplies, is burdened by a disproportionately large share of toxic contamination, and suffers from long-standing federal disinvestment. While national policies are vitally important to the Northeast-Midwest states, the region’s priorities are also shaped by unique demographic, geographic, and economic circumstances that require special attention by policymakers and legislators. The Northeast-Midwest Institute—along with its sister Congressional coalitions—works to protect the region’s assets by developing policy options to improve the region’s situation in the areas of economic development, environmental quality, energy efficiency, and regional equity.

The Institute owes its existence to the elected officials of the region – particularly those who held office in the mid-1970s. U.S. Representatives from the Northeastern and Midwestern states shared many of the same positions on federal issues, yet had no organized structure to assure that their voices and votes were united. After losing several battles over the apportionment of federal funds, these legislators decided to form such an organization.

The result was the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition. Formed in 1976, the Congressional Coalition began life as a caucus of the House of Representatives – a voluntary organization whose membership consists of members of Congress from the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin. As such, it does not have an explicit basis or direct recognition in House or party rules, but serves the Northeast-Midwest region by: compiling, analyzing and distributing information; developing and mobilizing support for legislative proposals; advocating positions and issues; and providing representation on issues critical to constituents of those 18 states.

Shortly after the Congressional Coalition became active, the senators from the same states created an analogous Northeast-Midwest Senate Coalition to parallel the work of the Congressional Coalition in the U.S. Senate.

In 1977 – with the support of the two coalitions and at the urging of the governors of the 18 states – the Northeast-Midwest Institute came into being as a nonprofit think tank responsible for providing policy guidance to the coalitions in order to craft sound federal legislation. The mission of the Institute is threefold: to protect the environment, enhance the economy, and ensure regional equity for the member states.