On a sunny afternoon last month, hundreds flocked to the opening ofMilwaukee’s Global Water Center, a seven-story, $22 million technology incubator that embodies the region’s desire to shed its rust-belt label and become a center for the green and global water tech industry.

Gov. Scott Walker and Mayor Tom Barrett waited their turns at the microphone. Cocktail glasses clinked and free beer flowed. “We will look back at today as a day that Milwaukee permanently changed,” extolled Mike Lovell, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

This feel-good moment was made possible by investors from China.

The Global Water Center, which houses laboratories, university faculty and more than a dozen water tech companies, wouldn’t likely have happened without the infusion of $12million from Chinese investors, who provided more than half the cost of acquiring and renovating the 107-year-old warehouse in Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighborhood.

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