State News

After “Wisconn Valley” announcement, some leery of potential broken promise

Foxconn to receive Wisconsin’s largest state subsidy ever

Foxconn will invest $10 billion to build a new factory in Wisconsin. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons - Ken Marshall.

Since the announcement Wednesday that Foxconn Technology Group, a Taiwanese electronics manufacturer, will invest $10 billion to build a plant in southeastern Wisconsin, some have expressed concerns over the high price tag and the company’s track record on following through with agreements.

Foxconn officials said the deal could generate up to 13,000 new jobs. In exchange, the state is providing the company with $3 billion in financial incentives, making it Wisconsin’s largest state subsidy ever.

Several Democrats were skeptical of the deal’s high cost among other grievances, such as controversy in China where Foxconn employees planned to commit mass-suicide in protest of poor working conditions.

“Given recent accounts of how its workers are treated and Foxconn’s strategy of getting every last nickel and dime it can from taxpayers to lower their costs, Governor Walker and any legislator thinking of supporting what could be a $3 billion incentive package should be very wary,” said state Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay.

Others are concerned about the company’s ability to follow through on agreements; in 2013, Foxconn planned to invest $30 million to build a factory in Pennsylvania, but it was never built.

During his visit in Wausau Friday to discuss the Foxconn deal, Gov. Scott Walker addressed this concern. He said due to changes in Pennsylvania's state leadership, the company did not move forward to create the factory.

“They made the deal with the previous governor,” Walker told reporters, according to WisPolitics. “I plan on being around for a while as governor, and I want to make sure we see this all the way through.”

On Friday, Walker called for a special legislative session to consider the incentive package and revealed a bill that would allow Foxconn to avoid state environmental regulations. Specifically, Foxconn could sidestep the Department of Natural Resources by connecting their man-made bodies of water with natural ones and releasing materials into Wisconsin wetlands.

The bill could be taken up as early as Tuesday.

Despite these worries, some high-ranking officials outside of the state government praised the deal Wednesday for the anticipated economic impact. Both UW System President Ray Cross and Chancellor Rebecca Blank said that they were a part of the discussion process with Foxconn early on.

Blank called Foxconn’s decision to locate a plant in Wisconsin a “major leap forward for our state’s economy,” and Cross said he feels the UW System and the state are ready for the company.

“We have appreciated the opportunity to showcase the abundant talent, skills, and resources that the UW System has to offer, and we are committed to building a strong, long-term relationship,” Cross said in a statement. “Powered by a collaboration of industry, education, and government, the UW System and Wisconsin are fully prepared to support a global enterprise like Foxconn.”

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