That’s our hope — and our advice — to Gov.-elect Tony Evers as he works through his transition period and gets set to take office next month.
Yes, we’re talking specifically here about Foxconn, the massive $10 billion liquid-crystal display manufacturing campus that is being constructed in Mount Pleasant and could hopefully generate 13,000 jobs here in southeastern Wisconsin.
In his successful campaign to unseat Gov. Scott Walker by a narrow margin, Evers at times had some criticisms of Walker’s signature deal with the Taiwanese-based manufacturing giant and the $2.85 billion state-supported tax incentive package.
At one point he called it “a lousy investment” and said he would look at renegotiating the deal, and told the Biz Times, “Foxconn has already backtracked on several of its promises and is not being held accountable by Walker. When I’m governor, we’ll hold Foxconn’s feet to the fire and make sure Wisconsin is getting the best return on investment.”
We suppose that kind of hyperbole is usual these days on the hyper-partisan campaign trail. But, that’s not how we see it here in southeastern Wisconsin. Remember us, Governor-elect? We’re the area of the state with a city that has often topped the unemployment charts and an economy that has suffered mightily with the decline of manufacturing jobs for years.
We see the Foxconn campus as a godsend — a project that can create jobs and potentially transform the entire economy of southeast Wisconsin, not only with the Foxconn manufacturing facility but with ancillary support businesses to complement it.
From our close-up view, we have seen Foxconn take positive actions every step of the way over the past year even as the earth has begun to move to accommodate the campus. We have seen Foxconn make plans for “innovation centers” here in Racine, in Madison, Green Bay, Milwaukee and Eau Claire to support its high tech plant plans; we have seen it partner with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and with local universities and colleges to enhance training and skill development for workers and system processes; we have seen Foxconn pledge to mitigate environmental impacts by developing a zero liquid discharge wastewater treatment system that will more than halve its water needs at the Mount Pleasant campus — a state of the art system that was not required in its contract with Wisconsin.
Others have seen it, too. The Foxconn package has spurred housing development projects in the city of Racine and in western Racine County. The most recent of these is the planned @ North Beach project for the long-neglected Walker manufacturing plant site along Lake Michigan — a $50 million project that Mayor Cory Mason hailed with: “Big picture on this: This the biggest redevelopment project we have seen in this city in probably a generation.”
“Foxconn,” Mason said, “has changed everything.”
Good changes for a city and county that have sorely needed them for decades. That’s the reality here in Racine, governor-elect, and we hope you will come to see it that way and resist any temptation to pull at threads — political or legal ones — to try to unravel a package that could boost the economy here in southeastern Wisconsin for generations to come and restore some of the luster we once had as an innovative, forward-looking part of the state.
Take off the campaign hat, put on the governor’s hat and work with and welcome Foxconn to make Wisconsin better.
— From The Journal Times of Racine