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Sep 4, 201812:47 PMInside Wisconsin

with Tom Still

As Wisconsin’s corporate ‘new kid,’ Foxconn motivating right playmates

(page 2 of 2)

There have been grumbles for years that not enough Wisconsin companies have invested in the state’s academic research and development partners, sometimes turning to other major universities first for their research needs.

Foxconn, the “new kid,” is sticking close to its new home as it partners with UW System schools, tech colleges, and private universities. Ideally, UW–Madison and other campuses should attract private partners on a regular basis — a phenomenon to be welcomed, not scorned.

Both developments have been criticized by those who still don’t believe Foxconn will be a permanent fixture in Wisconsin or that the company is merely recycling state tax credits to pay for other endeavors.

Combined with previous announcements about opening innovation centers in Green Bay and Eau Claire; the creation of a statewide “smart cities” competition for college and university students, faculty, and staff; and the construction of the massive Racine County plant itself with almost all Wisconsin contractors; it’s hard to characterize Foxconn as a hobo passing through the state.

State tax credits won’t be paid until there is economic activity to justify them, as spelled out by the state contract. That activity will be measured by jobs created and dollars invested on a schedule that all policymakers will closely monitor.

Wisconsin’s “new kid” is still an outsider to some who don’t think the cost is worth making the state economy more globally connected and tech-savvy. That view may change as the company and its investments produce jobs and opportunities that help keep young people at home.

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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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