Foxconn to build LCD plant in Wisconsin

Announcement planned this afternoon at the White House

Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 04:56 pm

Details regarding Foxconn’s plans to build a massive plant in Wisconsin continued to emerge Wednesday ahead of a 4 p.m. announcement from President Donald Trump.

Terry Gou, founder and chairman of Foxconn speaks during a news conference, in Taipei, Taiwan June 22, 2017. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Gov. Scott Walker tweeted Wednesday morning about a “major jobs announcement for Wisconsin” taking place at the White House. Bloomberg reported the governor would be joining Trump, Foxconn chairman Terry Gou, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Vice President Mike Pence for the announcement.

The announcement will be streamed live online by WISN-TV Channel 12, a media partner of BizTimes Milwaukee.

The Associated Press reported an invitation for the event indicated the company would be building a liquid-crystal display (LCD) panel plant in the state. The facility would initially employ 3,000 people and expand over a two-and-a-half year period, according to Bloomberg.

Several national publications cast the decision as a political win for Trump, Ryan and Walker.

Commercial real estate sources familiar with the project said the location of the Foxconn plant will likely be east of I-94 along Highway 11 in Racine County, which is part of Ryan’s district. The land is in the village of Mount Pleasant, bordering the village of Sturtevant. Boards from both municipalities met jointly in closed session in July to discuss a major economic development project.

Officials from Mount Pleasant could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Sturtevant officials said they would not comment on the Foxconn project until the official announcement was made later today.

While the plants for the Foxconn plant would be a boost for Wisconsin, and for Racine County in particular, the Washington Post also pointed out Foxconn’s plans haven’t always panned out. A planned $30 million facility in Pennsylvania announced in 2013 is yet to become a reality. The same is true for a $1 billion plant in Indonesia. Other projects in India, Vietnam and Brazil have also fallen short of initial projections.

Wisconsin, which was one of several states in the running for the facility, is likely offering significant incentives to the company. Comparing the project to others around the country, Wisconsin Technology Council president Tom Still said the state may have to offer a $2 billion to $3 billion incentive package for the Foxconn facility.

Some are already raising concern about the incentives that will be offered to Foxconn.

“Wisconsin taxpayers should not be subsidizing private corporations at the expense of our children, schools and roads,” said state Rep. Jimmy Anderson, D-Fitchburg, in a news release. “And despite Governor Walker’s alleged fiscal conservatism, the truth is that he is fine with spending money so long as it doesn’t go to you, the real hard-working taxpayers of our state. The Republican-controlled Legislature and Governor Walker have consistently asked you to tighten your belt or have rejected other opportunities to create family sustaining jobs, but when a multinational corporation wants a multi-billion-dollar handout, Governor Walker more than bends over backwards. All the while, our schools struggle to stay open, Main Street is littered with potholes, and huge numbers of Wisconsinites cannot even drink the water coming out of their taps. That’s not leadership.”

State Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, said lawmakers will have a responsibility to make sure the state can fund the incentive package and that there are accountability measures included to ensure jobs are created.

“I know billion is a lot of money and this will probably be several billion,” he said, adding that he has faith in those working out the deal to include proper protections for the state.

Wanggaard also said the project will create jobs beyond those at the factory, including at suppliers and other parts of the economy. The spending from those workers would help to improve the tax base, he said.

Large incentive packages can have mixed results. The state awarded $62.5 million in tax credits to Menomonee Falls-based Kohl’s Corp. in 2012. The company has made just over half of its planned $250 million capital investment and created 473 of a planned 3,000 job increase. To date, $18.3 million of the credits have been verified.

On the other hand, Amazon has more than doubled its planned $155 million capital investment in Kenosha after being awarded $10.3 million in tax credits in 2013. The company has created 3,720 jobs, well ahead of the required 1,250 under the deal with the state.

BizTimes reporter Corrinne Hess contributed to this report.

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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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