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May 29, 201812:25 PMInside Wisconsin

with Tom Still

In building a workforce at Foxconn, ‘Wisconsin First’ is watchword

(page 2 of 2)

The discussion came after economist Joey Von Nessen described what happened to the Greenville-Spartanburg area of South Carolina after BMW, the German automaker, decided to open an American assembly plant. The targeted investment of $600 million and 2,000 jobs grew to 10,000 jobs and a “multiplier effect” that spread to a statewide supply chain that has now attracted Volvo.

“They (BMW) definitely under-promised and over-delivered,” Von Nessen said.

The creation of “hidden clusters” in South Carolina in the wake of the BMW move helped attract Boeing to Charleston, expand the port infrastructure in Charleston to increase trade, and develop a more responsive education system, Von Nessen added. Attracting BMW was controversial, at first, because of state tax incentives. Not today.

“I don't think you can find any policy maker or business leader that would” regret the decision, Von Nessen said, even if some amount of patience was required.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be bumps in the Foxconn road or that people can expect secondary development to all happen organically, he added, but for Wisconsin, “there are all sorts of additional opportunities out there.”

If those opportunities truly put “Wisconsin First,” the South Carolina success story can be duplicated here in time.

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About This Blog

Tom Still is president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. He is the former associate editor of the Wisconsin State Journal.

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