Nearly 1,000 Foxconn jobs in state will be located outside Mount Pleasant site

Construction crews prepping for factory foundations next year [PHOTO GALLERY]

Construction work at the Foxconn site in Mount Pleasant.

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:11 pm

With the announcement of its downtown Racine innovation center this week, Foxconn Technology Group has said it will have nearly 1,000 employees in Wisconsin who are based outside of its Mount Pleasant manufacturing campus.

Foxconn Place Racine will have at least 125 employees, the company said. Another 500 employees are expected to be based at the 611 Building in downtown Milwaukee, Foxconn’s North American headquarters. An innovation center in Green Bay will have 200 employees and another one in Eau Claire will have 150, Foxconn has said.

In each case the company is buying a building to establish the innovation centers. Not only will the projects have Foxconn employees, but the company also plans to partner with area companies. So far, the only building which the company has closed on the purchase of is the 611 Building in Milwaukee, which Foxconn bought for nearly $15 million.

Foxconn, which says it will eventually have 13,000 employees in the state, has been ramping up its hiring efforts, announcing a nationwide effort to recruit military veterans and holding career days at universities throughout the state. The company on Friday also announced a series of job fairs around the state.

Mark Hogan, Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. secretary and chief executive officer, said the company is aligning itself with the state’s universities and technical colleges to be in areas with more high-tech talent.

“They’re realistic enough to know that in order for them to make inroads with that talent, they need to be closer to those schools,” he said following Tuesday’s announcement of Foxconn Place Racine.

On Thursday, Hogan stressed that the company’s capital investments in the innovation centers, along with a $100 million partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a corporate venture capital fund with Johnson Controls, Northwestern Mutual and Aurora, will not qualify for any of the $1.35 billion in capital expenditure tax credits Foxconn is eligible for over the next 15 years.

Jobs created by Foxconn at the innovation centers will likely count towards the $1.5 billion in payroll tax credits Foxconn can receive. Hogan pointed out WEDC will not verify the first tax credits for Foxconn until the second quarter of 2019. The first credits the company can receive are worth up to $9.5 million if the company has 1,040 employees in the state at the end of 2018.

The second time WEDC would verify tax credits – worth up to almost $217 million – would be in 2020.

“When we look at it from a contract standpoint and a certainty standpoint, we feel really good about it because we’re going to have a two-and-a-half year window as to all of this activity that’s taking place here,” Hogan said.

He was speaking from a construction trailer at the Foxconn construction site just off Braun Road in Mount Pleasant. WEDC organized a series of tours for media members Thursday to mark 100 days since the ceremonial groundbreaking for the project attended by President Donald Trump. Construction equipment has actually been on site for more than 160 days.

In that time, crews led by M+WǀGilbane have moved around 3.5 million cubic yards of soil during site excavation and vertical construction has begun on a multi-purpose building. The 120,000-square-foot facility will serve as construction offices during the project and will also be used by Foxconn once work is complete.

Adam Jelen, Gilbane Building Co. senior vice president, said crews are now beginning to put aggregate in place for the advanced display fabrication facilities. Those massive facilities will actually make television and other display screens and are at the heart of the manufacturing campus. The plan is to have the building pad in place before winter and to start pouring foundations in the second quarter of next year.

Despite Foxconn, M+WǀGilbane and state officials holding a number of information sessions around the state and the company announcing significant investments beyond Racine County, public sentiment on the project remains split.

In a September poll by Marquette University Law School, 48 percent of registered voters said the state is paying too much with a $3 billion incentive package, essentially unchanged from 49 percent in a March poll.

Residents do appear to be warming up to the idea that the project will benefit more than just southeastern Wisconsin. In March, 66 percent of respondents said they do not expect businesses near them to benefit from Foxconn. In the September poll 54 percent said they do not expect a benefit for their area businesses.

Hogan acknowledged the state has to continue to tell people what the project is about.

“We need to go out and continue to make the case that this is not just about Racine County, it’s not just about southeastern Wisconsin,” he said.

Foxconn’s ambitions in Wisconsin include the creation of an ecosystem that uses next generation screen resolution and cellular data technology, along with machine learning and artificial intelligence, to develop products in entertainment, health care, manufacturing and a number of other areas.

Hogan agreed part of the challenge for the state is helping people understand the scale of Foxconn’s plans.

“The educational side is really on us to make sure that we continue to provide information,” he said. “It’s incumbent on us as well as the company to continue to make the case as to what are we doing, what’s the kind of talent that we need and all of those types of things.”

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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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