E4 Initiative Encourages Engineering Innovation

Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold kicked off his E4 Initiative, an effort to fuel job creation and enhance workforce development, during a visit to Procorp Enterprises LLC, a provider of sustainable water and wastewater treatment solutions, according to a Sept. 2 press release.

Feingold got a first-hand look at Procorp's facility and met with area business and research leaders, including Franz Hoffmann, Ph.D., president of Procorp; Carlos Santiago, chancellor of University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Julia Taylor, president of the Greater Milwaukee Committee. The discussions centered on ways in which the federal government can help small businesses grow and address emerging challenges.

The initiative – dubbed "E4" because of its focus on economy, employment, education, and energy – will include legislation to boost small business innovation, support job growth in the emerging energy sector, enhance workforce development, and build new education partnerships.

"The federal government should be helping small businesses harness their innovative strengths to grow, create more jobs, and address our emerging national challenges," said Feingold. "My upcoming legislation to increase funding for Small Business Innovation Research grants could offer important assistance to small businesses."

"Water is a key local, state, and federal issue, and we applaud Senator Feingold on his involvement in bringing this to the forefront of the national agenda," said Hoffmann. "Many businesses and communities are dealing with water availability and quality issues. Federal support of research and product development in the area of water quality helps ensure that people will have the tools they need to access clean water and protect the environment."

Procorp's technologies can help dairy farms reduce the amount of phosphorus in their wastewater or help cities soften their water while keeping millions of gallons of chloride out of rivers.

In some cases, by utilizing new technology, companies and communities can not only clean water and recycle water but create a useful byproduct or reclaim minerals that can be sold and bring in revenue. For example, Procorp is partnering with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to research ways in which the byproduct of its radium removal process – tiny pellets – can be used for road-building and construction. Instead of creating waste that would cost money to put in a landfill, using this technology will have positive effects on a community's budget.

"We have invested over half of a million dollars in these technologies, and efforts such as Senator Feingold's will encourage companies and communities nationwide to embrace these new technologies to solve problems," added Hoffmann. "These technologies can even help them save money while protecting the environment and preserving our most precious natural resource – water."

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