M+WǀGilbane sets targets for Wisconsin hiring on Foxconn

Site work could begin soon, with first buildings going up later this year

Nearly 500 people attended the Foxconn contractor information session in Sturtevant on Tuesday.

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:12 pm

The construction management team Foxconn Technology Group selected for its $10 billion LCD manufacturing campus in Mount Pleasant 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.

Nearly 500 people attended the Foxconn contractor information session in Sturtevant on Tuesday.

Officials from M+WǀGilbane announced the targets during a contractor information session Tuesday in Sturtevant. 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, Gilbane senior vice president.

Building the Foxconn 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+WǀGilbane 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 during his presentation. M+W Group, meanwhile, is based in Germany and specializes in construction of clean room environments.

The M+WǀGilbane plan calls for 10 percent of the subcontractors to be based in Racine County and 10 percent to be woman-, minority- or veteran-owned businesses. The targets are not mutually exclusive, officials said.

Hiring Racine County workers will be emphasized as the company seeks to reach its 70 percent job hour target. The plan also calls for 10 percent of hours to go to women, minorities and veterans.

M+WǀGilbane officials also repeatedly emphasized the first thing they will look at in considering a bid is whether it has a plan for inclusion of the targeted groups. Bids without a plan will not be considered on the private sector side of the project.

The project will utilize union and non-union workers, officials said, noting there have been conversations with both sides, but it is an open job that is not governed by a project labor agreement.

Tuesday’s event was the first of 12 contractor information sessions to be held around the state. The events are the first step in bidding on parts of the Foxconn project. Companies will also have to register with M+WǀGilbane and attend pre-bid matchmaking sessions.

Matt Moroney, state Department of Administration strategic economic initiatives director, thanked Foxconn officials for committing to a process that opens up the project to all firms.

“There’s no inside ballgame here, folks,” Moroney told the 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.

The first bid package for the project, covering mass excavation, erosion control, storm water and soil testing, was released over the weekend. The plan is for some construction work to begin later this month or 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 to have an assembly operation as the first facility. Lois acknowledge the timeline has been pushed back slightly from what was anticipated when Foxconn selected the Mount Pleasant location.

M+W Group officials 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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