By John Flesher -
MILWAUKEE -- A century ago, the seven-story brick building a few blocks from downtown was a
factory - a symbol of an era when Milwaukee and other cities ringing the Great Lakes were
industrial powerhouses churning out steel, automobiles and appliances. Eventually the region's
manufacturing core crumbled, and the structure became an all-but-forgotten warehouse.
Now it's getting a makeover and a new mission. It will reopen this summer as a hive of
business experimentation swarming with scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs. They'll share a lab
where new technologies can be tested. Office suites will host startup companies, including one
devising a system for cultivating algae as biofuel, another producing a type of pavement that lets
rainwater seep into the ground instead of flooding sewers.
The center is part of a broader effort unfolding across the Great Lakes region to regain lost
prosperity by developing a "blue economy" - a network of industries that develop products and
services related to water, from pump and valve manufacturers to resorts offering vacations along
As growing water scarcity casts a shadow over the economic boom in warmer states, many in the
long-scorned northlands are hoping they can finally make their abundance of freshwater a magnet for
businesses and jobs that are now going elsewhere. More here.