The Saginaw News and the Bay City Times, which both reduced their print editions to three days per week last year, have announced that they will begin publishing a joint “Great Lakes Bay” Tuesday edition that will focus on regional development.

The Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance — which is comprised of the Chambers of Commerce in Midland, Bay City and Saginaw — is pushing for the three cities to rebrand themselves as the Great Lakes Bay Region.

Earlier this year Mary Lou Benecke, director of state government relations for Dow Corning Corp. told the Saginaw News that branding the region is a way to bolster its reputation as a marketable entity in Michigan.

“The new brand, in my mind, codifies an identity for the Bay City, Saginaw and Midland areas,” she told the News.

Dow Chemical and Dow Corning are major business in the region.

Some have reacted negatively to the newspapers’ choice to adopt the Chamber-preferred identity for the area.

In comments to the announcement published on Mlive some protested that that “Great Lakes Bay” is a cute marketing phrase that robs the area of its historic identity.

One reader, zagmeyer, said that the rebranding effort is an attempt to distract from Dow Chemical’s toxic contamination of the watershed that unites Midland, Saginaw and Bay City.

Dow Chemical’s dioxin contamination of the Saginaw Bay watershed has tarnished the reputation of the area so severely, “community leaders” needed to come up with a different way to ’sell’ the region. These “community leaders” have fought tooth and nail to stop any meaningful solution to the contamination. (God forbid Dow actually be pressured to clean it up) Instead, they defend Dow and allow the community members to continue being poisoned by eating local fish and wildlife, and living on contaminated land.

There is no sense of concern for public health in this community, when it should be the community’s top priority. That’s enough to scare anyone away in itself. The dioxin contamination here has severely hurt business opportunity. Dow knows it. Why do you think they have stepped up so significantly in recent years to try and promote the area?

That company has a terrible environmental reputation around the world, and no matter what local leaders try to sell you, they are not good corporate neighbors. They have poisoned our watershed and people, and the Chamber of Commerce applauds.