Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:12 pm
Everything about Foxconn Technology Group’s plans for a $10 billion LCD manufacturing campus is massive in scale and the mass excavation work to prepare the Mount Pleasant site for the project will require crews to move 4 million cubic yards of soil.
“That process will take all the way from now until next August to get the site structurally filled for the building program,” said Adam Jelen, senior vice president at Gilbane Building Co., clarifying he did in fact mean August of 2019. “The building program will start in earnest later this year and into next year.”
Foxconn on Thursday named the first two subcontractors on the project, awarding excavation, storm water management and erosion control work to Black River Falls-based Hoffman Construction Co. and soil testing work to Milwaukee-based Gestra Engineering. The first bid package released by the company included work in those areas.
Jelen said 25 to 30 firms have been awarded direct and indirect subcontractor work. He declined to name any additional firms, but said 90 percent of the firms are Wisconsin-based.
At its peak, the site preparation work for the project will employ 400 people with about 80 percent being Wisconsin residents.
“It’s amazing,” Jelen said when asked if 80 percent was a good figure. “It’s really going to make a difference in the community.”
Gilbane and M+W Group, who are working together on the Foxconn project as part of a joint venture, set a target of having 60 percent of contracts go to Wisconsin-based businesses and 70 percent of work hours performed by Wisconsin residents, with an emphasis on those from Racine County.
None of the bids awarded so far are for building construction or even include pouring any concrete. Jelen said those bid packages are yet to come and more opportunities will be coming out quarterly.
He also declined to say what buildings would be the first to be constructed, noting the company is still working on finalizing the manufacturing process design. Building construction work could begin by the end of this year.
“Right now the process design feeds the building program, so more to come,” Jelen said.
Mount Pleasant officials had said the company would first build an assembly facility on the eastern end of the 787-acre area the village transferred to it. The plans called for that facility to be ready to begin production by next year as Foxconn seeks to ramp up hiring to meet its contract commitments to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.
Jenny Trick, Racine County Economic Development Corp. executive director, said the focus recently has been on getting site prep work underway. With crews set to begin moving equipment into place and preparing erosion control measures, attention can turn towards plans for the buildings. She said updated and more detailed site plans would emerge in the coming months.
Even as some of the timelines discussed by state, local and company officials since last July have been pushed back slightly, Racine County, Mount Pleasant and M+WǀGilbane officials held an event Thursday to mark the arrival of excavation equipment on the site. The event was not a groundbreaking and a formal ceremony for that will be held at a later date.
“I’m proud that although the timeline was fast, less than one year after initial conversations commenced, our focus has remained on achieving what is best for our community, our residents and our taxpayers,” said Jonathan Delagrave, Racine County executive.
Delagrave was referencing an April 28, 2017 meeting between Wisconsin and Foxconn officials at the White House. Gov. Scott Walker was initially not going to attend the meeting until his staff found out Foxconn chairman Terry Gou was only attending meetings that included a state’s governor.
“The timeline for this project has been unlike anything we’ve ever imagined,” said Dave DeGroot, Mount Pleasant village president, noting it was a year ago he received a request for proposal from an unnamed company that eventually turned out to be Foxconn.
In the week leading up to the one year anniversary of Walker’s first meeting with Gou, a flurry of progress has been made on the Foxconn project. Mount Pleasant officials said Tuesday they were transferring nearly 800 acres of land to the company (state records on Thursday indicated that transfer has been completed). Also on Tuesday, the Department of Natural Resources approved air emissions permits for the project. On Wednesday, the DNR approved the city of Racine’s application to divert 7 million gallons of Lake Michigan water outside the Great Lakes basin on a daily basis. More than 80 percent of the water will be used to support Foxconn’s manufacturing process.