A new study from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater shows that in the last two years, investing in water quality projects has created more than 342 full-time jobs and stimulated the regional economy with more than $30 million. In addition, property values rose by $86 million. The projects in the study were funded by the Fund for Lake Michigan (FFLM). Created in 2011, FFLM awards grants annually to local governments, nonprofits, schools and other educational institutions. Between 2014 and 2015, FFLM awarded 79 grants totaling roughly $4.4 million. “These are not just feel-good projects, they significantly impact the economy,” said Russ Kashian, professor of economics and author of the study. “Money invested through this foundation – which often includes the leveraging of additional private funding – is not an expense, it’s an investment in the community and the return on investment is extremely high. The economic and environmental benefits go hand in hand.” Kashian noted that while this study focused on southeast Wisconsin, FFLM’s grant-making includes projects along the Lake Michigan shore up to Door County. “The economic benefits extend to these communities as well. People want to live near healthy, clean and vibrant lakes and rivers. Tourists flock to these places.” Find the full report at uww.edu/Documents/uww/FFLMreport.pdf.