By TODD RICHMOND
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Foxconn Technology Group announced on Friday that it plans to open an office in Green Bay that will bring at least 200 high-tech jobs to the city, giving the company a chance to spread goodwill amid doubts that its massive southeastern Wisconsin campus will benefits places other than the southeast corner of the state.
Gov. Scott Walker has been promising for months that the display-screen manufacturing campus Foxconn plans to build in Mount Pleasant will transform Wisconsin’s economy. He signed a bill last year that could provide as much as $4.5 billion worth of state incentives for the project.
Critics, though, have questioned how much the Taiwanese electronics company will really do for Wisconsin’s economy. Sixty-one percent of respondents to a Marquette University Law School poll released last week said they didn’t think the company would directly help businesses where they live.
The company announced on Friday that it has reached an agreement to buy a six-story, 75,000-square-foot building in downtown Green Bay and use it as an “innovation center.” The center will work with new companies and other businesses to develop uses for Foxconn screens, according to the company and Walker’s office.
“This investment marks another commitment by Foxconn to the State of Wisconsin and will ensure Foxconn’s contributions go well beyond the (Mount Pleasant campus) and our North American headquarters in the City of Milwaukee,” Foxconn CEO Terry Gou said in the announcement.
The building in Green Bay is not the first the company has bought in a Wisconsin center. Foxconn officials announced on June 15 that they had acquired a building in downtown Milwaukee for use both as their North American headquarters and as an innovation center.
The Green Bay center could increase Walker’s standing with voters in northeast Wisconsin. The region tends to be conservative, and the governor will most likely have to do well there to help offset Democratic votes in Madison and Milwaukee.
“Foxconn’s decision to expand … to northeastern Wisconsin is yet another example of the ‘Foxconn Bonus’ that goes above and beyond the company’s historic investment in Racine County,” Walker said in a news release on Friday. “Whether it is the construction-related jobs that are being created right now throughout the state or key investments such as this, Foxconn is already having a positive impact on every region of our great state.”
Foxconn officials said in the announcement they plan to close on the purchase of the Green Bay property and open the innovation center later this year. The announcement did not elaborate or disclose the terms of the purchase agreement.