Here in Racine County, we have been talking about Foxconn coming for more than a year now.
The company’s $10 billion factory is expected to bring thousands of much-needed jobs here, turn our county into a technology hub and bring new housing and other development.
Elsewhere in the state, many have been looking on anxiously. There has been concern about the tax credits that the state and local government are offering in return for the project. And although it’s true that most of the tax credits are dependent on a certain number of jobs being created, some of the tax money is already being spent on new roads.
Many people who have been looking on from elsewhewre have wondered, “What’s in it for me?”
A year later, we are starting to get answers.
Over the past month, following President Donald Trump’s visit to Mount Pleasant for the Foxconn project’s ceremonial groundbreaking, Foxconn has announced it will open innovation centers in both Green Bay and Eau Claire. The centers are part of a plan to spur innovation, attract talent and connect the new factory with suppliers.
In Eau Claire, Foxconn will open a technology hub in the heart of the Chippewa Valley through the acquisition of a historic office building and establishment of innovation and test centers in downtown Eau Claire. The company plans to complete its acquisition of those properties later this year and start the new operations in early 2019.
Foxconn said the new centers, to be collectively named Foxconn Place Chippewa Valley, will create at least 150 high-tech jobs in Eau Claire. Employees will work with companies that will eventually become part of Foxconn’s supply chain and contribute to the development of the AI (artificial intelligence) 8K+5G technology that Foxconn plans to work on at sites on throughout the Badger State. The term 8K refers to super-high-resolution imaging, and 5G refers to the next generation of cellphone technology.
Separately, in Green Bay, Foxconn Technology Group has bought a six-story office building along the Fox River. The building once housed a Younker’s Department Store. The company plans to open its innovation center there by the end of the year and, in doing so, create at least 200 high-tech jobs.
Foxconn has also moved into Downtown Milwaukee. It recently announced that the former Northwestern Mutual building at 611 E. Wisconsin Ave. would become its North American headquarters. Then there’s the partnership that Aurora Health Care and Foxconn have formed to provide health care to Foxconn employees.
Even before that, Foxconn announced in May that it would be putting $1 million into public and private universities and colleges using what it’s calling a Smart City, Smart Future initiative. The initiative includes a competition, which will offer winners and award recipients prizes, financial awards and technical support.
Although Racine County has the most to gain from the Foxconn development, the rest of the state will also benefit. The recent announcements in Milwaukee, Eau Claire and Green Bay make this clear.
And it’s safe to assume there will be more announcements and partnerships to come.
— The Journal Times of Racine