Water Council to receive SBA cluster funding

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced today that the Milwaukee Water Council will be one of four regional industry innovation clusters to receive new federal funding to fuel growth.

Already convening the highest concentration of companies focused on water technology in the nation, the Milwaukee cluster will utilize $545,892 in SBA funding to establish a Center of Excellence for Freshwater Innovation and Small Business Development. Co-located in the recently launched Global Water Center, the Center of Excellence will provide a myriad of small business services, including technology transfer, counseling, acceleration and mentorship.

U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet today announced the SBA’s support of the four new Regional Innovation Clusters, adding to its portfolio of regional innovation networks across the country.

“Clusters are public-private partnerships that are driving innovation and job creation in our most promising regional hubs for innovation,” Contreras-Sweet said. “SBA has built a strategic infrastructure of financing and consulting networks in key regions to help new companies launch and small companies grown, particularly in underserved communities across the country. We’re unleashing the full potential of entrepreneurs who are developing cutting-edge products and processes that will help ensure American global competitiveness, creating support systems for small businesses in regions with the most need.”

The other three industry clusters to receive new SBA funding are: The Marine Industries Science and Technology Cluster, I-10 Corridor (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida); the Autonomous and Unmanned Systems Cluster, southeastern New Mexico; and the Retail, Supply Chain and Food Processing Cluster of the Ozarks Region, northwest Arkansas, northeast Oklahoma and southeast Missouri.

SBA’s funding will be provided to each clusters organizing entity to strengthen opportunities for small businesses within the cluster.

The SBA allocation for Milwaukee came after Mayor Tom Barrett led a Milwaukee delegation to the White House to meet with members of President Barack Obama’s economic development team in July. Other members of that Milwaukee delegation included: Rich Meeusen, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Badger Meter Inc.; Todd Adams, president and CEO of Rexnord Corp.; Julia Taylor, president of the Greater Milwaukee Committee; Mike Lovell, president of Marquette University; Mark Mone, interim chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Charlie Adams, chief engineer of A.O. Smith Corp.; Tim Hannegan, A.O. Smith lobbyist; and Dean Amhaus, president and CEO of The Water Council.

“I was proud to  share Milwaukee’s success with the White House.  Milwaukee is establishing itself as the Fresh Coast of the United States. The Milwaukee region has quickly become recognized as a world hub for water research, education and economic development,” Barrett said. “We are advancing our global position by becoming a magnet that attracts creative talent, innovative ideas, and a city and region recognized as a water leader in tomorrow’s world. We have a history of successfully building small businesses in the water technology industry as evidenced by the current list of multi-national water technology corporations, many which began in the city more than a century ago.”

Since 2010, the SBA has invested in regional clusters throughout the United States. The goal of the SBA’s involvement in clusters is to increase small business participation and economic activity. For more information on the SBA’s clusters initiative, visit www.sba.gov/clusters.

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