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Milwaukee breaks ground on new global water center

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MILWAUKEE -- A vacant warehouse in Milwaukee's Walker's Point neighborhood will now be home to a global water center.  City and state officials launched construction on the site Monday morning, August 13th near 2nd Street and Pittsburgh Avenue.

It was once a storage warehouse -- holding boxes and seatbelts.  Now, the century-old building on Pittsburgh Ave. will take on a new purpose as the center of water technology research.

“Some building was the first building to go up in Silicon Valley.  Somewhere there was the first one, and I'd like to think that what we're looking at here could be the first building in water technology,” Milwaukee Water Council Co-Chair Rich Meeusen said.

The Milwaukee Water Council will renovate the 98,000 square-foot, seven-story building, which will become its new headquarters.  It'll house research facilities for universities and office space for water-related companies, like Badger Meter and A.O. Smith.  It’ll also have space to attract new businesses.

“Right now, a child dies of every 20 seconds for lack of clean water,” Meeusen said.

“We want to solve the world's water problems and this center is going to help with that,” Milwaukee Water Council Co-Chair Paul Jones said.

Governor Scott Walker and his administration provided $20 million in tax credits to help fund the project, which will create more than 500 new jobs.

“More than 150 water technology companies, five of the top in the world when it comes to water technology are right here in southeast Wisconsin, and it's only going to get bigger and bolder as time goes on,” Gov. Walker said.

Officials say the groundbreaking of the global water center is just the start of an even bigger plan.  They hope to expand to the nearby Reed Street Yards, to help establish Milwaukee as the water hub of the world.

“We need to make sure we are telling the world we are and are going to continue to lead the world in this technology,” Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said.

The global water center is scheduled to open summer of next year.

To better reflect Milwaukee's effort to develop a water technology park, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is asking for suggestions on renaming Pittsburgh Avenue. If you have a new street name suggestion, you can submit it online by CLICKING HERE.

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