WEDC to require Foxconn to hire CPA to verify job numbers

Board approves program guidelines, but no contract vote

Foxconn is seeking Foreign-Trade Zone status for its TV assembly operations.

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

Foxconn Technology Group will be required to provide “an annual independent third-party verification” of its job creation and capital expenditures in the state under the terms of the program guidelines approved by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. board on Tuesday.

Attendees visit the Foxconn lounge at MMAC’s all-member meeting

The requirement goes beyond the guidelines for WEDC’s traditional enterprise zone tax credit program, which is the model for Foxconn’s massive tax credit package. In practice, that means Foxconn will have to hire a certified public accountant that WEDC approves of to verify the figures that provide the basis for the company receiving up to $2.85 billion in tax credits, according to Steve Michels, a spokesman for Gov. Scott Walker’s administration.

Michels said the requirement would provide an additional level of accountability for the program. While the cost associated with requiring a company to hire a CPA doesn’t make sense in the context of WEDC’s smaller awards, the sheer size of the tax credits available to Foxconn justify the requirement, he said.

The Foxconn special session bill signed by Walker in September set up a new incentive program for WEDC to run, meaning the board had to sign off on new program guidelines before awarding Foxconn’s tax credits. The seven page document largely mirrors the state statutes passed by lawmakers earlier this year.

The WEDC board did meet in closed session to receive an update on the contract negotiations, but the two sides do not yet have an agreement. With the program guidelines in place, WEDC and Foxconn still have to sign a contract awarding the company the tax credits.

Michels said there is no timeline for when the contract will be done and state officials plan to make sure the deal is done right. He said Mark Hogan, WEDC secretary and chief executive officer, noted the next regularly scheduled board meeting is Nov. 8 when asked when the deal might be finalized.

While there’s nothing stopping the board from holding a special meeting ahead of Nov. 8, Hogan, Walker and other administration officials will also be out of the country on a trade mission to Israel from Oct. 27 to Nov. 3.

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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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