The New Economy of Water

More and more entrepreneurial minds are discovering that, in an age that prizes and rewards information and innovation, inventing new ways to better manage, clean, and conserve fresh water likely will work to generate new economic opportunity.

I first came across the idea of a private sector-led effort to establish a pioneering - and hopefully profitable - hub of water research in the Great Lakes region in 2002 when I met Tom Newhof. At the time, Mr. Newhof, president of the consulting firm Prein and Newhof, was working to transform a historic water treatment plant in downtown Grand Rapids into the Global Enterprise for Water Technology.

I wrote about Mr. Newhof's campaign in 2004. But the effort ultimately was unsuccessful due to a lack of venture capital and, in my view, vision and imagination on the part of a risk averse business community.

In recent years, similiar ideas have popped up in Detroit, Milwaukee, and Washington D.C, as well as Arizona and New Mexico.

Now it seems Bay City, MI is the latest community to recognize that a worldwide market for new knowledge and expertise to improve water resource management clearly exists

''This is a race,'' Ziggy Kozicki, former assistant dean at Davenport University, recently told the Bay City Times. ''Someone in the Great Lakes region is going to establish a center where all of this takes place.''