Governor Gretchen Whitmer signs a supplemental funding bill which allocates funds toward the development of GVSU's Blue Dot Lab.

Blue Dot, big impact: Gov. Whitmer visits campus, signs bill with $30 million for GV tech hub

Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Grand Valley President Philomena V. Mantella smile for a photo.

With the stroke of a pen, backed by leaders from around the state, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday signed a $616 million supplemental funding bill during a ceremony at Grand Valley, providing a $30 million boost to the university’s Blue Dot initiative.

The funding, approved by the Michigan Legislature in early November, will spark a major overhaul of the Eberhard Center in downtown Grand Rapids for the Blue Dot Lab, a computing and data science hub to support multidisciplinary educational opportunities, community partnerships and entrepreneurship.

Grand Valley President Philomena V. Mantella hailed the supplemental appropriation as a groundbreaking investment in the future of Michigan’s economy. She welcomed Whitmer and dozens of guests to DeVos Center on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus for the signing ceremony on December 18.

“Governor Whitmer and a bipartisan group of elected officials are investing in innovation and the infrastructure that will power Michigan’s future,” Mantella said. “Our Blue Dot Lab will transform the way Grand Valley uses data science, AI and computing technology to forge new opportunities for our students and our state.”

Grand Valley president Philomena V. Mantella speaks to the audience at Governor Gretchen Whitmer's signing of a supplemental funding bill.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer speaks to the audience prior to signing a $616 million supplemental funding bill.

The lab’s mission is to build a talent pipeline of students focused in data analytics and computer skills, while increasing the digital literacy skills of all Grand Valley students. Blue Dot also will provide students with opportunities for collaboration with tech start–ups and business partners.

"Grand Valley State University's Blue Dot Lab is a forward-thinking project that will help establish Michigan as the destination for high-skilled talent looking to lead the future," Whitmer said.

“I am so proud that we were able to support the Lab in our supplemental, capping off a productive year that saw record funding for education from pre-K through postsecondary. Let’s keep working together to make Michigan a great place to learn and pursue your potential.”

Two events this fall showcased the technology and opportunities available for students through the Blue Dot ecosystem, which will include the new downtown lab and other spaces throughout GVSU’s campuses.  

In September, Mantella highlighted Grand Valley faculty and students working with extended reality technology. Held in conjunction with Tech Week Grand Rapids, GR in XR on the Blue Bridge gave a glimpse into the virtual/augmented reality platform and its applications for West Michigan and Grand Rapids. 

U.S. Rep. Hillary Scholten, Grand Valley President Philomena V. Mantella and Governor Gretchen Whitmer smile during a speaker's comments at the DeVos Center.
U.S. Rep. Hillary Scholten, Grand Valley President Philomena V. Mantella and Governor Gretchen Whitmer smile during a speaker's comments at the DeVos Center.

In November, Mantella unveiled the futurEDlab at the Consumers Energy John G. Russell Leadership Center. The futurEDlab engages students with innovative technologies and prepares them for the future of Michigan’s economy. 

Some of the projects on display at the futureEDlab included work from REP4, which seeks to center student voices in the future of higher education and the Laker Accelerated Talent Link , which recently kicked off.

Every GVSU graduate in a growing and diverse campus community will have digital literacy, real world experiences and the capacity to immediately contribute,” Mantella said. “The delivery of education through radical co-collaboration possible in this Blue Dot facility will contribute to our businesses, our communities and our state.

“The track record is strong, with GVSU's graduates growing in number and growing in demand. With 80% of our alumni staying in Michigan, GVSU creates Michiganders who are ready and rising.”


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