It is safe to say that the majority of us were stunned to learn that Foxconn selected southeast Wisconsin to create what could be a 20 million square foot, $10 billion dollar manufacturing campus which will be the largest Direct Foreign Investment in North America ever! Wisconsin put its best foot forward in recruiting a global leader in advanced manufacturing with an incentive package that could reach $3 billion dollars and assurances that a streamlined permitting process will be adhered to. While the Foxconn announcement in itself is profound, the cascade effect of this transformational development could lead to tens of millions of square feet of additional commercial real estate, thousands of construction jobs, a projected multiplier effect of 22,000 support jobs outside of Foxconn and additional announcements touching on everything from education, workforce development, additional funding for I-94 south and projections for the immediate need for new housing developments. Quite simply, this announcement can potentially alter the trajectory of our great State which has been aging in place and experiencing slow to no population growth.
These deals are never easy and this one represented the alignment of many resources from Right to Work, access to workforce, access to real estate resources, and an amenable legislative body. It will also require further investment and changes to current State law which are currently being considered by the State legislature. Some of these changes impact wetlands and environmental law, tax increment districts and sales tax incentives which will draw some further questioning.
The CARW board of directors has considered the complexities of the incentive package, and they have voted to individually ENDORSE advocacy efforts encouraging support of the proposal. The support is needed in order to encourage our elected representatives to advance the prospect of tens of thousands of jobs, income and property tax impacts, and infrastructure enhancements tied to the project. The incentive bill will be fast-tracked in the legislature with public hearings beginning very soon. Our intent is to participate in individual mobilization efforts while understanding and enhancing the changes to real-estate related pieces of the legislation. We are encouraged by the immediate interest and activity in the project and the assurances that incentives will be “paid as they grow” and clawback provisions will be tied to timelines and job creation measures.
This is the economic development opportunity of a generation and we are encouraged by the prospects that will benefit the entire State and continue to enhance the viability of Wisconsin as THE place to do business.
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