Announcement of Foxconn plant site ‘imminent’

WEDC Secretary Hogan says location should be announced within two weeks

Foxconn products on display at WCTC.

An announcement of the site selected for the proposed Foxconn manufacturing campus is “imminent,” Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Secretary Mark Hogan said Thursday. 

The selection of the 1,000-acre site is expected to be announced within two weeks, Hogan said during a public hearing held by the Wisconsin Assembly Committee on Jobs and the Economy on legislation behind an incentive package for Foxconn Technology Group.

Foxconn products on display at WCTC.

Foxconn has been in talks with land owners in multiple counties for several months, but a specific site has not been selected. The company is planning to break ground on its first southeastern Wisconsin facility as early as this fall. 

The Assembly committee held a public hearing Thursday on a draft of the bill that was released by Gov. Scott Walker last week. The bill sets up the systems for the $3 billion incentive package state officials agreed to with Foxconn.

No Foxconn representatives were present for the hearing, but a statement from Foxconn chairman and founder Terry Gou was read by Rep. Adam Neylon, chairman of the committee. 

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau on Tuesday released its first report on the Foxconn bill, which also includes a financial incentive to keep Brookfield-based Fiserv’s headquarters in Wisconsin. The document mostly covers the policy aspects of the bill, though a  second paper is expected to address its fiscal implications.

Under the deal, Foxconn Technology Group could earn $3 billion in tax incentives by building a $10 billion manufacturing campus in Wisconsin that could create up to 13,000 jobs.

The incentives are expected to cost the state between $200 million and $250 million a year. The company will be eligible for $1.5 billion in tax credits for job creation, $1.35 billion for capital investments and $150 million from a sales tax holiday.

State officials, along with higher education leaders, spoke in support the project during Thursday’s hearing, touting its potential “transformative” impact on the state’s economy.

Marquette President Mike Lovell said that, if done well, the I-94 corridor could “rival places like Silicon Valley in 20 years.” Ray Cross, president of the University of Wisconsin System, said Foxconn would attract students from around the world and the jobs would keep graduates in the state.

However, UW officials raised concerns with the current capacity of the state’s engineering programs, saying more funding is needed to hire more faculty.

Support for the project didn’t fall entirely along party lines during Thursday’s testimony. Conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity Wisconsin on Thursday released a statement against the proposed incentives.

“…as free market activists who staunchly oppose government tax incentives, we cannot support the expensive refundable tax credits in this package, which are not available to every other business in our state,” said Eric Bott,  Americans for Prosperity Wisconsin director.

The League of Women Voters Wisconsin likewise opposes the bill, saying the economic incentive is “much too high.”

“The proposed plant is likely to be highly automated, which means the proposal will generate fewer, more highly skilled jobs,” the organization said, adding that many jobs would go to Illinois residents.

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