Brief

Governor announces new deal for Foxconn’s Mount Pleasant factory

By: - April 19, 2021 10:08 am
Foxconn employees on assembly line

Foxconn employees on assembly line. (Company photo, iphonedigital, December 2016 | Flickr CC BY 2.0)

State officials have reached a new deal for Foxconn’s plant in Racine County, where the company once promised to make new-generation flat screens and has since repeatedly changed its plans for the facility.

Gov. Tony Evers announced the new agreement Monday morning in a brief press release that did not offer any details. The agreement is subject to approval from the board of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC), which negotiated the new agreement under CEO and Secretary-designee Missy Hughes. The board is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, according to its public agenda.

Foxconn has yet to qualify for any of the $3 billion in state tax credits authorized more than three years ago.

The statement Monday indicted that the new agreement will “lower taxpayer liability” for the project but does not include specifics.

The company originally said it would make Gen 10.5 liquid crystal display flatscreens at the facility it was building in Mount Pleasant, promising to employ up to 13,000 people. That particular plan was written into the legislation passed late in the administration of former Gov. Scott Walker, granting the company tax credits conditioned on employment.

Since then the company has several times offered different plans. The Evers administration, however, has maintained that none of those plans, nor any of the activities conducted on the plant site, met the requirements in the legislation for the tax credits.

In a statement Monday, Evers said it has been his goal “to find an agreement that works for Wisconsin taxpayers while providing the support Foxconn needs to be successful here in our state.”

The press release from the governor’s office included a statement from Jay Lee, vice chair of Foxconn Technology Group.

“In response to unforeseeable economic conditions, Foxconn began formal negotiations with a desire to lower taxpayer liability in exchange for the flexibility to pursue business opportunities the meet market demand,” Lee said.

Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh), a member of the WEDC board who has been a longtime critic of the Foxconn deal, issued a statement Monday morning welcoming the new agreement.

“I am encouraged by the announcement of an agreement between the WEDC and Foxconn, and I look forward to getting answers to questions at tomorrow’s meeting,” Hintz stated. “I share Governor Evers’ goal of having a realistic and accountable contract that can lead to new jobs and protect taxpayers going forward. State and local taxpayers have already spent over a billion dollars on a project with little to show more than three years later. It is my hope that any new contract brings better transparency and clarity from Foxconn going forward.”

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Erik Gunn
Erik Gunn

Deputy Editor Erik Gunn reports and writes on work and the economy, health policy and related subjects, for the Wisconsin Examiner. He spent 24 years as a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine, Isthmus, The Progressive, BNA Inc., and other publications, winning awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, beat coverage, business writing, and commentary. An East Coast native, he previously covered labor for The Milwaukee Journal after reporting for newspapers in upstate New York and northern Illinois. He's a graduate of Beloit College (English Comp.) and the Columbia School of Journalism. Off hours he is the Examiner's resident Springsteen and Jackson Browne fanboy and model railroad nerd.

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