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Foxconn plans to use downtown Milwaukee building as Wisconsin HQ

Foxconn Technology Group is buying building located at 611 E. Wisconsin Avenue from Northwestern Mutual Life. The building will serve as the flat screen manufacture’s North American headquarters. (Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)

Foxconn Technology Group is buying a building located at 617 E. Wisconsin Avenue from Northwestern Mutual Life. The building will serve as the flat-screen manufacture’s Wisconsin headquarters. (Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)

Foxconn Technology Group plans to use the 611 Building in downtown Milwaukee as its “Wisconsin headquarters,” company officials announced on Tuesday.

The Taiwanese company has entered into a letter of intent to purchase the 7-story, 131,000-square-foot office building at 617 E. Wisconsin Ave. from Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. The building, which will be renamed Foxconn Place, will serve as the headquarters for Foxconn’s operations in the state.

Although not all details of the company’s plans have been made final, officials said they will use the building in part to draw attention to what they are calling the Wisconn Valley Innovation Center. This center, which will be in the 611 Building, is intended to spur further innovation and groom entrepreneurs by housing incubators, accelerator labs, venture-capital activities and start-up initiatives.

Current plans call for the innovation center to have a product showcase where clients and members of the public will be able to get up-close views of the products Foxconn is making.

“This is a major milestone in Foxconn’s plans to build a world-class advanced manufacturing campus that will create significant high-value job opportunities and an extensive supply chain supporting our project in Wisconsin, and contribute to the state’s transformation into a global hub for high-tech companies,” said Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn chief executive officer Terry Gou.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, left, and Louis Woo, an executive at Foxconn Technology Group, shake hands shortly on Tuesday shortly after the company announced plans on Tuesday to turn a 7-story, 131,000-square-foot building at 611 E. Wisconsin Ave. into its Wisconsin headquarters. The announcement is tied to Foxconn’s plans to build a $10 billion factory in Mount Pleasant. (Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, left, and Louis Woo, an executive at Foxconn Technology Group, shake hands shortly after the company announced plans on Tuesday to turn a 7-story, 131,000-square-foot building at 617 E. Wisconsin Ave. into its Wisconsin headquarters. The announcement is tied to Foxconn’s plans to build a $10 billion factory in Mount Pleasant. (Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)

The company is already moving ahead with plans to build a 20 million-square-foot manufacturing campus in Mount Pleasant, where it will make LCD screens. The “8K+5G” screens to be made in the new plant will display 8K definition and be able to accommodate 5G wireless speeds.

Alan Yeung, Foxconn director of U.S. strategic initiatives, said the company has not made a final decision concerning exactly how many employees will work in the 611 Building, but estimated the number will be somewhere between 600 and 650.

Meanwhile, at its factory in Mount Pleasant, Foxconn plans to employ as many as 13,000 people.

Foxconn first announced its intended purchase of the 611 Building on Monday but waited until a press conference held on Tuesday on the top floor of Northwestern Mutual’s new 32-story headquarters building to provide more details.

The construction of Northwestern Mutual’s nearby Tower and Commons building, which opened its doors to employees last year, has freed up space at some of the company’s other properties downtown. John Schlifske, chairman and CEO of Northwestern Mutual, said his company is looking for ways to work with Foxconn beyond the building sale.

Local and state officials praised the announcement during Tuesday’s press conference.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele likened the Foxconn project to the new Bucks arena that is being built in downtown Milwaukee. The Bucks project, he said, has already had a “catalytic effect” by encouraging further commercial and residential development.

“This (Foxconn project) has the potential to be a lot bigger,” Abele said.

Gov. Scott Walker said the building acquisition is evidence of the “Foxconn bonus.”

“Beyond the $10 billion investment that will require up to 10,000 workers to build, creating this new headquarters in downtown Milwaukee is part of the Foxconn Bonus building across the state,” he said.

About Alex Zank, alex.zank@dailyreporter.com

Alex Zank is a construction reporter for The Daily Reporter. He can be reached at 414-225-1820.

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