AWRI goes Blue
Annis Water Resources Institute wins grant to aid Blue Economy
The Annis Water Resources Institute of Grand Valley State University has been awarded a one-year,
$75,000 grant by the C.S. Mott Foundation to encourage the development and growth of the “Blue
“The Blue Economy refers to using our natural water assets in a sustainable fashion to promote and
transform economic growth in Michigan,” said Alan Steinman, AWRI director and principal investigator.
AWRI is partnering with John Austin of the Michigan Economic Center at the Prima Civitas Foundation
to connect with local communities developing their natural water assets through economic
development efforts, water technologies and education, research and stewardship.
Austin has been involved with the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce’s efforts to address
the Blue Economy issues in Muskegon, as well as the city’s strategic position to exploit its water
resources for economic development and the creation of new jobs.
“Water matters in economic development these days,” Austin said at a chamber event in 2012. “Water
is the backdrop of our lives. It’s magical. It is very powerful as a place definer.”
The grant will assist the various Michigan communities, educational institutions and private firms
making Blue Economy efforts and will collaborate with John Allan, director of Gov. Rick Snyder’s
administration’s Office of Great Lakes, who is developing an overall water strategy for Michigan.
“We are showing through our work at the Annis Water Resources Institute, in Muskegon and West
Michigan, the economic power of cleaning up our waters and waterfronts,” Steinman said. “We are
producing new talent and ideas that can manage our water sustainably. This project will allow us to
inventory the blue economy initiatives throughout the state and use that information to incentivize
additional economic growth based on sustainable fresh water principles.”
The grant, which is part of the Growing Michigan’s Blue Economy Initiative, has five tasks: to convene
a core group of targeted stakeholders, practitioners and informants to identify potential avenues and
targets for the inventory of Blue Economy activity in the state; to compile an inventory of Blue
Economy building practices and activities in local communities, firms, colleges and universities; to
integrate research and findings into a draft, the “Blue Economy Inventory and Issues Discussion
Report,” which will summarize the gathered information; to create a review session with the involved
persons for the purpose of fine-tuning the reporting; and to produce and publish “Phase One Report:
A Compelling Blue Economy Vision.”
The hope is that this cooperation will help public and private leaders identify and support effective
efforts, as well as inspire other groups to develop their own Blue Economy strategies. Additionally,
the investigation funded by the grant will examine the best practices for managing fresh water
resources, as well as provide a better understanding to how public and private partnerships, state and
local governments, philanthropic institutions and other organizations can improve Michigan’s water-
To learn more about AWRI, visit, www.gvsu.edu/awri.