Feb 13, 201811:45 AMInside Wisconsin
with Tom Still
Foxconn showing all signs they’re in Wisconsin to stay
(page 1 of 2)
There are still plenty of people in Wisconsin who think the Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group is giving the state a giant head fake.
Skeptics think the company has no intention to put down roots in Wisconsin, and is simply waiting for the chance to abscond with our tax dollars and scamper home.
The latest company announcement rammed home the fact that nothing could be further from the truth.
Foxconn is buying a seven-story building in downtown Milwaukee from Northwestern Mutual, Wisconsin’s 161-year-old insurance giant. It will be the company’s North American headquarters and a center for activities outside its planned manufacturing plant in Racine County.
Those activities will include innovation, incubation, venture capital investment possibilities, and other commercial dealings. The building has the capacity to hold 650 people and will be renamed Foxconn Place.
The move was praised by Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and Gov. Scott Walker, who joined in the Feb. 5 announcement.
“Foxconn is putting a stake in the ground,” said Abele, once touted as a Democratic candidate for governor. “This is an extraordinary opportunity …”
At the same news conference, Foxconn executive Louis Woo pledged the company will “work for the next 161 years to not only witness but actively participate in the transformation and growth of Wisconsin.”
If that’s a head fake, it beats anything we just saw in the Super Bowl.
People may continue to debate whether Foxconn’s 13,000 direct jobs and its predicted supply-chain effects are worth the state tax credits, but they need to remember Foxconn won’t get those credits unless the company meets specific job and capital goals over time.
The contract between the state and Foxconn is tightly written, as it should be, and lays down job and capital investment markers over a 15-year schedule. It’s a “pay-as-you-grow” strategy that can throttle up or down depending on the company’s performance.
In the meantime, skeptics should at least acknowledge that Foxconn is working hard to be a permanent and active corporate citizen of Wisconsin.
It shows not only in the Milwaukee headquarters announcement, but also in job fairs, research and development relationships, supply chain spadework, land acquisition, transportation planning, and more across the state.