After months of speculation over Foxconn’s plans in Wisconsin, the company said last month construction on an LCD fabrication facility would begin this year. On Wednesday, the Gilbane Building Co. executive leading construction efforts on the Foxconn campus in Racine County said contractors should expect to see a number of bid packages released as work ramps up at the Mount Pleasant site.
“Now it’s go time,” said Adam Jelen, senior vice president at Gilbane. “You’re going to see things come out at a rapid pace.”
Jelen spoke at a contractor information session held by GilbaneǀExyte at the S.C. Johnson iMet Center in Sturtevant. Exyte, formerly The M+W Group, and Gilbane are leading construction of the Foxconn project as part of a joint venture. The companies held two similar info sessions last year to detail the bid process for the project. Jelen said similar events will not be held ahead of every bid package release, but the companies do plan to continue holding pre-bid match-making sessions to connect subcontractors.
The pending release and potential award of bid packages for the Gen 6 fabrication facility or fab is another concrete step forward for the Foxconn project, which has been under intense public scrutiny since it was first announced.
Jenny Trick, executive director of the Racine Economic Development Corp., said the information sessions provide an opportunity to communicate specifics with the public and get businesses involved.
“If you’re not hearing something or hearing enough you start to finish your own story, be it factual or otherwise,” she said, acknowledging it will likely continue to be a challenge for project supporters to explain the ins and outs of Foxconn’s plans. “I don’t know if you’ll ever satisfy all of the questions that are out there.”
In January, Foxconn executives acknowledged the company was reconsidering whether it would make LCD panels in Wisconsin. But within a few days – and after talks with the White House – the company said it would move forward with a Gen 6 fab
at its Mount Pleasant campus, a facility that would make smaller LCD panels and provide more flexibility than the originally planned factory there.
In March, the company announced it would begin construction on the fab this summer
with the goal of beginning screen production by the fourth quarter of 2020. At the time, Foxconn said it would announce the awards for site utilities and roadways on its Mount Pleasant campus by April 1 and release bid packages for the fab in May.
The $34 million roadway and utility packages
were announced on March 28 and Wednesday’s event gave some indication of which bids would be available when for the fab and related buildings.
“We’re looking forward to the participation of all of you,” said Bob Brandherm, director of project management, construction and facilities at Foxconn. “Please, sharpen your pencils.”
Jelen said the first of the next wave of bid packages will be released within 10 days. It will focus on long lead-time equipment for a power substation Foxconn is building on the site.
The next package – for the fab’s foundation – will be released within weeks with other packages to follow, he said.
“These won’t stop until year end, that’s our anticipation,” Jelen said.
In the second and third quarters of this year, Foxconn will release bid packages for the delegated design and construction of a number of buildings and systems related to the fab. Allen Ware, vice president of advanced technology facilities at Exyte, said that at previous information session general contractors and design/build firms had questioned if work would be available to them since many of the initial packages appeared to be targeted towards trades. Ware said the work in the initial bid packages was a function of the site development work that needed to be completed and the number of opportunities will increase moving forward.
Projects with delegated design and build responsibilities will include systems for zero liquid discharge, ultra-pure water, process chemicals and specialty gas along with a bulk gas yard and nitrogen plant.
Jelen noted some of those systems and buildings might go to national or global firms because of their specific technical nature. He added that any company bidding on Foxconn work is required to show a plan for incorporating Wisconsin companies and workers.