Foxconn team sets targets for Wisconsin hiring

Profiles in Innovation

The site Foxconn Technology Group has selected for its 20 million-square-foot campus.

M+W | Gilbane, the construction management team Foxconn Technology Group selected for its $10 billion, 22 million-square-foot Mount Pleasant campus, has set goals to have 60 percent of the project completed by Wisconsin-based companies and 70 percent of the job hours worked by Wisconsin residents.

Officials from M+W | Gilbane announced the targets during a contractor information session in Sturtevant in April.

A map of the planned road construction projects around the Foxconn site.

The joint venture between Gilbane Building Co. and M+W Group also set goals for the use of Racine County firms and the hiring of women, minorities and veterans on the project.

“Our No. 1 objective is to build capacity both in workforce and in business in the State of Wisconsin, while building a world-class facility for our client,” said Adam Jelen, senior vice president at Gilbane.

Building the Foxconn LCD panel campus is expected to generate up to 10,000 construction jobs over each of the next four years. While the work is projected to generate $3.6 billion in wages over the four-year period, critics have questioned how much of the work will actually go to Wisconsin residents. Reports by Ernst & Young and Baker Tilly have sought to estimate the number of out-of-state workers, but the goals outlined by M+W | Gilbane represent the first tangible numbers presented by Foxconn or its contractors. While Gilbane is headquartered in Rhode Island, Jelen emphasized the firm’s Milwaukee presence while talking to reporters and noted its role in the construction of the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. tower in downtown Milwaukee.

M+W Group, meanwhile, is based in Germany and specializes in construction of clean room environments.

The company held a dozen contractor information sessions throughout the state in April, emphasizing the value of the project to firms all over the state, not just in southeastern Wisconsin.

The M+W | Gilbane plan calls for 10 percent of the subcontractors to be based in Racine County and for 10 percent to be woman-, minority- or veteran-owned businesses. The targets are not mutually exclusive, and the project will utilize union and non-union workers, officials said.

“There’s no inside ballgame here, folks,” Matt Moroney, state Department of Administration strategic economic initiatives director, told a crowd of nearly 500 people in Sturtevant. He said while the public sector elements of the project are required by law to select the lowest-priced competent bid, the state is strongly encouraging firms to consider inclusion in their proposals. “This is a rare opportunity to get more people into the trades,” Moroney said.

An aerial view of the Foxconn site in Mount Pleasant. Credit: Curtis Waltz /


Contract work to improve road conditions and add frontage roads near the Foxconn property in Mount Pleasant is already underway and is expected to be complete by June.

Firms from Waukesha, Black River Falls and Green Bay were awarded those contracts. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation expects additional road work related to the Foxconn campus to continue into the year 2021.

Mass excavation, erosion control, storm water and soil testing projects have also been announced, and some construction work is scheduled to begin in May.

Vertical building construction would likely start in the second half of the year or early next year.

The design and building program for the Foxconn plant is still being refined, but Claude Lois, Mount Pleasant project director, said the company is still planning for an assembly operation to be the first facility.

Lois acknowledged the timeline has been pushed back slightly from what was anticipated when Foxconn selected the Mount Pleasant location. M+W Group executives also discussed the possibility of setting up clean room pre-fabrication sites around the state as construction moves forward, although no specific locations were discussed.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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