MILWAUKEE (AP) -

Business and government leaders in the Great Lakes region are pinning hopes for a return to prosperity on a precious resource: fresh water.

They're encouraging the development of a so-called "blue economy" -- a network of industries that make products and provide services related to water, from pump and valve manufacturers to resorts offering lakefront vacations.

It's happening as growing water scarcity casts a shadow over the economic boom in Sun Belt states. They've benefited for decades from an exodus of people and jobs from the Upper Midwest as its industrial core faded.

In Milwaukee, an organization called The Water Council is opening a refurbished building this summer that will bring together scientists and entrepreneurs to develop water-related businesses.