Milwaukee's Water Technology District spurs $211M in development, analysis shows

Sept. 25, 2015
The Water Council, with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, has found that $211.6 million worth of development has occurred since 2012 when it became the epicenter of water technology and freshwater research.

MILWAUKEE, WI, SEPT. 25, 2015 -- The Water Council, in collaboration with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM), has released an Economic Investment Analysis (here) of the Water Technology District in Milwaukee's Walker's Point neighborhood, which found that $211.6 million worth of development has occurred since 2012 when it became the epicenter of water technology and freshwater research.

"When moving around this area of Milwaukee, you can easily see the transformation that has occurred with the renovation of old buildings and the location of new businesses," explained Dean Amhaus, president and CEO of The Water Council. "Now, for the first time, we have actual numbers to back up what has been evident to the eye."

The analysis, which does not include any economic impact multiplier, focuses on the impact of investments related to water technology, their associated actions, their place, and their time. The time period of the analysis extends between 2010 and 2014. It encompasses portions of Walker's Point, the Fifth Ward, and the Harbor District. The study area is bounded to the north by the Menomonee River, to the east by the Inner Harbor, to the south by Greenfield Avenue, and to the west by Interstate 43/Interstate 94.

"Too often the assessment of economic development impact starts and ends with the jobs produced or capital investment made as a direct result of a single project. Little attention is paid to the indirect benefits of economic development strategies once deployed," said Lee Swindall, vice president business and industry, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. "That's what makes this analysis unique, and it's what defines Wisconsin’s water technology cluster as a textbook case study on the profound impact of a comprehensive cluster development approach."

The analysis also found the following findings:

  • Since 2010, private investments have totaled $108.4 million; private/public tools have leveraged $25.5 million of investments; and $77.5 million worth of public funds have secured financing, rebuilt infrastructure, or funded TIDs.
  • In the District, property values increased by 16.6 percent, or $56.6 million. The Walker's Point neighborhood saw a 12.8-percent increase overall, while the City of Milwaukee saw an 11.1-percent decrease.
  • Of the 126 development projects in the District, 111 were valued at less than $1 million. These small-scale investments are clustered along South 1st and 2nd Streets and West Pittsburgh Avenue.

"UWM, business and civic communities are collaborating in ways that we have not seen before," said UWM Chancellor Mark Mone. "The results are clear: this level of partnership has accelerated the Water Technology District and the region in remarkable ways. We're bolstering the area's economic vitality and making lifelong differences to our students through research opportunities, our alumni who are leading the way in the water sector, and all those who live and work in the District."

The Water Council partnered with UWM in the Water Technology Accelerator, which provides world-class labs and equipment for UWM researchers and their collaborators to move innovative science to commercial application and develop technologies suitable for pre-production prototype formulation and evaluation.

The Economic Analysis demonstrates that new commercial development, new business creation and new residential options are reinvigorating a once ignored area, creating a preferred destination for development investment from large corporations, small businesses, commercial banks, and real-estate developers.

See also:

"Water Council receives second-year funding from JPMorgan Chase"

"Water Council officially welcomed to OPIC Partners Program"

About The Water Council

The Water Council, the only organization of its kind in the U.S., was established in 2009 by Milwaukee-area businesses, education and government leaders. With more than 150 water technology companies in the Milwaukee area, the region's water industry is a $10.5-billion market and accounts for 4 percent of the world's total water business. The non-profit organization, consisting of more than 170 members, is linking together global water technology companies, innovative water entrepreneurs, acclaimed academic research programs and some of the nation's most intelligent water professionals. The Water Council is capturing the attention of the world and transforming the Milwaukee region into a World Water Hub for freshwater research, economic development and education. For more information, visit


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