Foxconn Technology Group Wednesday pledged to invest $10 billion to build a display panel plant in Wisconsin that could employ up to 13,000 workers and draw up to $3 billion in subsidies from state taxpayers — a deal that could ripple through the economy and 2018 elections.
The Journal Sentinel reports,
As Republicans in Washington struggle to repeal Obamacare and advance bills on tax cuts and infrastructure, Trump seized on the announcement as a win in a key swing state, crowing that the deal wouldn’t have been done “if I didn’t get elected.”
The agreement represents an opportunity as well as a risk for Wisconsin — state lawmakers must now consider a subsidy package nearly 50 times bigger than the state’s previous record.
The factory project would involve a virtual village, with housing, stores and service businesses spread over at least 1,000 acres, according to interviews. That acreage, a 1.5 square mile area the size of Shorewood, could be assembled from parcels that initially aren’t contiguous, the source said.
At 20 million square feet, the factory would be three times the size of the Pentagon, making it one of the largest manufacturing campuses in the nation. It would initially employ 3,000 workers making an average of $53,900 a year plus benefits and could eventually boast more than four times that.
“America does not have a single LCD plant to produce a complicated system. We are going to change that,” Foxconn chairman Terry Gou said.
Walker called the deal “the single largest economic development project in the history of Wisconsin” and said it represented the most jobs ever to be plopped into an undeveloped parcel anywhere in the nation.
“This is literally number one,” Walker said.
The deal comes as Trump seeks to fulfill a promise to bring manufacturing jobs that have been lost in recent decades back to the United States. U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, whose district in southeastern Wisconsin would be home to the facility, praised Trump and Walker for working to make it happen, calling the plant a “game changer.”
The deal won bipartisan praise, though some Democrats also expressed concerns about the size of the incentive package.
The Foxconn plant would make liquid crystal display panels used in computer screens, televisions and the dashboards of cars. Walker’s office said the deal could result in up to 22,000 jobs that would be indirectly created by suppliers and businesses looking to locate near Foxconn and serve the company and its workers.
The construction alone could lead to 10,000 jobs over each of the next four years.
Foxconn already had a significant Wisconsin connection. Doug Albregts, named last October as CEO of Sharp Electronics Corp. of America, is a University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate. The company he runs is part of the Japanese firm Foxconn acquired last year.
A follow-up event to sign a memorandum of understanding between the state and Foxconn will be held Thursday afternoon at the Milwaukee Art Museum.
Joining Trump and Vice President Mike Pence at the White House were the state’s top elected officials as well as some of its most prominent business executives.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester), who traveled to Washington, said he would like to pass the incentive package in August in a special legislative session.
“I could not be more supportive of the concept and I can’t imagine we would not pass this idea,” said Vos, whose district lies very near the plant sites under consideration.
White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, who is from Kenosha County, said: “I think it’s a home run for Wisconsin and southeast Wisconsin will benefit tremendously. Kenosha is going to get a big shot in the arm here; I can’t wait to see it happen for the people there.”
No site has been chosen, but areas in Racine and Kenosha counties remain in play. One source said Foxconn could end up using multiple locations in Wisconsin.
Foxconn is huge, with revenues of $135 billion last year and some 700,000 employees in China, its manufacturing base.
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