Empower Wisconsin | Dec. 5, 2019
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — NBC News called it a debacle. Democrats predicted taxpayers would be left holding the bag on an empty — and expensive — economic development deal.
This week, we learned that Foxconn Technology Group has awarded another $31 million in construction contracts at what promises to be a massive advanced manufacturing campus in Pleasant Prairie.
That brings Foxconn’s total contract awards to at least $350 million so far, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
That’s far from a debacle.
Certainly not to companies like New Berlin’s United States Alliance Protection Inc., J.F. Ahern Co., of Fond du Lac, or Morse Electric Inc., of Beloit — each benefitting from the first phase of Foxconn development.
“Foxconn also said it is nearing completion of roof installation at the planned flat-screen factory, which totals nearly 1 million square feet,” the newspaper reported.
Mainstream media outlets have dogged Foxconn since the Taiwan-based tech giant first proposed its $10 billion development plan in summer 2017. It is the largest U.S. economic development deal of its kind. It comes with north of $3 billion in state tax incentives, if Foxconn meets its goal of creating 13,000 jobs.
Mainstream news organizations, generally reluctant to report on the findings of free-market think tanks, were all in on a recent George Mason University’s Mercatus Center study that showed Wisconsin’s deal with Foxconn could reduce economic activity in southeastern Wisconsin.
The fact that former Republican Gov. Scott Walker and President Donald Trump were key in landing Foxconn in Wisconsin only stirred the media’s disdain — or at least its gotcha quest.
In October, state and national sources declared that Foxconn had stalled work on its Innovation Centers around the state. A quick look at building permits in Milwaukee, Racine and elsewhere contradicted the press’ breathless assertion, as Empower Wisconsin first reported.
In short, despite the dire predictions, Foxconn is moving ahead — and it’s building big in Wisconsin.
Construction alone has meant hundreds of millions of dollars to contractors and subcontractors across the state.
“It’s going to transform that area in the same way that a company like Microsoft did for the state of Washington,” Walker told Foxbusiness.com last month.
Even if the company falls short of the targeted 13,000 jobs, “even 7,000 or 10,000 would still be one of the biggest economic development projects in the state’s history,” the former governor said, adding that he believes Foxconn will come through on its job-creation projections.
The company’s quickening pace of construction could ultimately help Trump’s re-election chances in battleground Wisconsin. Bringing Foxconn to the U.S., to southeast Wisconsin in particular, is at the core of Trump’s overall bid to bring manufacturing jobs back home.
“If this president stays focused on building a strong economy, he’s going to do well in Wisconsin,” Walker told Fox.